Lesquerella is a potential industrial oilseed crop that makes hydroxy fatty acid (HFA). Unlike castor its seeds are not poisonous but accumulate lesquerolic acid mostly at the sn-1 and sn-3 positions of triacylglycerol (TAG), whereas castor contains ricinoleic acid (18:1OH) at all three positions. To investigate whether lesquerella can be engineered to accumulate HFAs in the sn-2 position, multiple transgenic lines were made that express castor lysophosphatidic acid acyltransferase 2 (RcLPAT2) in the seed. RcLPAT2 increased 18:1OH at the sn-2 position of TAGs from 2% to 14%-17%, which resulted in an increase of tri-HFA-TAGs from 5% to 13%-14%. Our result is the first example of using a LPAT to increase ricinoleic acid at the sn-2 position of seed TAG. This work provides insights to the mechanism of HFA-containing TAG assembly in lesquerella and directs future research to optimize this plant for HFA production.
Keywords: Physaria fendleri; hydroxy fatty acid; lesquerella; lysophosphatidic acid acyltransferase; metabolic engineering; seed triacylglycerol.