Bacterial Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Their Biosynthetic Genes, Functions, and Practical Use
A polyolefinic hydrocarbon was found in nonpolar extracts of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 and identified as 3,6,9,12,15,19,22,25,28-hentriacontanonaene (compound I) by mass spectrometry, chemical modification, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Compound I was shown to be the product of a head-to-head fatty acid condensation biosynthetic pathway dependent on genes denoted as ole (for olefin biosynthesis). Four ole genes were present in S. oneidensis MR-1. Deletion of the entire oleABCD gene cluster led to the complete absence of nonpolar extractable products. Deletion of the oleC gene alone generated a strain that lacked compound I but produced a structurally analogous ketone. Complementation of the oleC gene eliminated formation of the ketone and restored the biosynthesis of compound I. A recombinant S. oneidensis strain containing oleA from Stenotrophomonas maltophilia strain R551-3 produced at least 17 related long-chain compounds in addition to compound I, 13 of which were identified as ketones. A potential role for OleA in head-to-head condensation was proposed. It was further proposed that long-chain polyunsaturated compounds aid in adapting cells to a rapid drop in temperature, based on three observations. In S. oneidensis wild-type cells, the cellular concentration of polyunsaturated compounds increased significantly with decreasing growth temperature. Second, the oleABCD deletion strain showed a significantly longer lag phase than the wild-type strain when shifted to a lower temperature. Lastly, compound I has been identified in a significant number of bacteria isolated from cold environments.