Control of fatty acid desaturation: a mechanism conserved from bacteria to humans

Mol Microbiol. 2006 Dec;62(6):1507-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2006.05484.x.


Unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs) have profound effects on the fluidity and function of biological membranes. Microorganisms, plants and animals regulate the synthesis of UFAs during changing environmental conditions as well as in response to nutrients. UFAs homeostasis in many organisms is achieved by feedback regulation of fatty acid desaturase gene transcription through signalling pathways that are governed by sensors embedded in cellular membranes. Here, we review recently discovered components of the regulatory machinery governing the transcription of fatty acid desaturases in bacteria, yeasts and animals that indicate an ancient role of transmembrane signalling mechanisms and integrate membrane composition with lipid biosynthesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / genetics
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Signal Transduction


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases