Synthesis of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) from intermediates of fatty acid beta-oxidation was used as a tool to study fatty acid degradation in developing seeds of Arabidopsis. Transgenic plants expressing a peroxisomal PHA synthase under the control of a napin promoter accumulated PHA in developing seeds to a final level of 0. 06 mg g(-1) dry weight. In plants co-expressing a plastidial acyl-acyl carrier protein thioesterase from Cuphea lanceolata and a peroxisomal PHA synthase, approximately 18-fold more PHA accumulated in developing seeds. The proportion of 3-hydroxydecanoic acid monomer in the PHA was strongly increased, indicating a large flow of capric acid toward beta-oxidation. Furthermore, expression of the peroxisomal PHA synthase in an Arabidopsis mutant deficient in the enzyme diacylglycerol acyltransferase resulted in a 10-fold increase in PHA accumulation in developing seeds. These data indicate that plants can respond to the inadequate incorporation of fatty acids into triacylglycerides by recycling the fatty acids via beta-oxidation and that a considerable flow toward beta-oxidation can occur even in a plant tissue primarily devoted to the accumulation of storage lipids
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