Recent research has identified marine molluscs as an excellent source of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (lcPUFAs), based on their potential for endogenous synthesis of lcPUFAs. In this study we generated a representative list of fatty acyl desaturase (Fad) and elongation of very long-chain fatty acid (Elovl) genes from major orders of Phylum Mollusca, through the interrogation of transcriptome and genome sequences, and various publicly available databases. We have identified novel and uncharacterised Fad and Elovl sequences in the following species: Anadara trapezia, Nerita albicilla, Nerita melanotragus, Crassostrea gigas, Lottia gigantea, Aplysia californica, Loligo pealeii and Chlamys farreri. Based on alignments of translated protein sequences of Fad and Elovl genes, the haeme binding motif and histidine boxes of Fad proteins, and the histidine box and seventeen important amino acids in Elovl proteins, were highly conserved. Phylogenetic analysis of aligned reference sequences was used to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships for Fad and Elovl genes separately. Multiple, well resolved clades for both the Fad and Elovl sequences were observed, suggesting that repeated rounds of gene duplication best explain the distribution of Fad and Elovl proteins across the major orders of molluscs. For Elovl sequences, one clade contained the functionally characterised Elovl5 proteins, while another clade contained proteins hypothesised to have Elovl4 function. Additional well resolved clades consisted only of uncharacterised Elovl sequences. One clade from the Fad phylogeny contained only uncharacterised proteins, while the other clade contained functionally characterised delta-5 desaturase proteins. The discovery of an uncharacterised Fad clade is particularly interesting as these divergent proteins may have novel functions. Overall, this paper presents a number of novel Fad and Elovl genes suggesting that many mollusc groups possess most of the required enzymes for the synthesis of lcPUFAs.
Surm, J. M., Prentis, P. J., & Pavasovic, A. (2015). Comparative analysis and distribution of omega-3 lcPUFA biosynthesis genes in marine molluscs. PLoS ONE, 10(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0136301