Overexpression of diacylglycerol acyltransferase in Yarrowia lipolytica affects lipid body size, number and distribution

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In the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica, the diacylglycerol acyltransferases (DGATs) are major factors for triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesis. The Q4 strain, in which the four acyltransferases have been deleted, is unable to accumulate lipids and to form lipid bodies (LBs). However, the expression of a single acyltransferase in this strain restores TAG accumulation and LB formation. Using this system, it becomes possible to characterize the activity and specificity of an individual DGAT. Here, we examined the effects of DGAT overexpression on lipid accumulation and LB formation in Y. lipolytica. Specifically, we evaluated the consequences of introducing one or two copies of the Y. lipolytica DGAT genes YlDGA1 and YlDGA2. Overall, multi-copy DGAT overexpression increased the lipid content of yeast cells. However, the size and distribution of LBs depended on the specific DGAT overexpressed. YlDGA2 overexpression caused the formation of large LBs, while YlDGA1 overexpression generated smaller but more numerous LBs. This phenotype was accentuated through the addition of a second copy of the overexpressed gene and might be linked to the distinct subcellular localization of each DGAT, i.e. YlDga1 being localized in LBs, while YlDga2 being localized in a structure strongly resembling the endoplasmic reticulum.

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