Recent advances in molecular cloning of fatty acid desaturase genes and the regulation of their expression by dietary vitamin A and retinoic acid

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2003 Feb;68(2):171-9. doi: 10.1016/s0952-3278(02)00267-3.


Vitamin A, as an essential micronutrient, is involved in higher animals in embryonic development and postnatal growth, reproduction and maintenance of normal skin, immunity and vision. Recently, studies in vivo and in cell lines have shown that vitamin A and its active metabolite, retinoic acid, regulate the expression of fatty acid desaturases including stearoyl-CoA desaturase and delta-5 desaturase. Whereas the former desaturase catalyzes the formation of monounsaturated from saturated fatty acids, the latter enzyme is involved in the desaturation pathway of dietary essential fatty acids for production of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The reaction products of these desaturases serve as critical regulators in a wide range of physiological processes which include fetal growth and development, reproduction, cell differentiation, immune and inflammatory responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / biosynthesis*
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / genetics*
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Genetic
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Retinoids / metabolism
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase / metabolism
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology*
  • Vitamin A / metabolism
  • Vitamin A / pharmacology*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Retinoids
  • Vitamin A
  • Tretinoin
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase
  • delta-5 fatty acid desaturase