Desaturases: structural and mechanistic insights into the biosynthesis of unsaturated fatty acids

M. Cerone, T. K. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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This review highlights the key role of fatty acid desaturases in the synthesis of naturally occurring, more common and not, unsaturated fatty acids. The three major classes of fatty acid desaturases, such as acyl-lipid, acyl-acyl carrier protein and acyl-coenzyme A (CoA), are described in details, with particular attention to the cellular localisation, the structure, the substrate and products specificity, and the expression and regulation of desaturases' genes. The review also gives an insight into the biocatalytic reaction of fatty acid desaturation by covering the general and the more class-specific mechanistic studies around the synthesis of unsaturated fatty acids Finally, we conclude the review looking at the numerous novel applications for desaturases in order to meet a very high demand for polyunsaturated fatty acids, taking into account the opportunity for the development of new, more efficient, easily reproducible, sustainable bioengineering advances in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1036-1051
Number of pages16
JournalIUBMB Life
Issue number11
Early online date18 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Fatty acid
  • Desaturase
  • Biotechnological advances
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids


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