Soybean oil biosynthesis: Role of diacylglycerol acyltransferases

Runzhi Li, Tomoko Hatanaka, Keshun Yu, Yongmei Wu, Hirotada Fukushige, David Hildebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT) catalyzes the acyl-CoA-dependent acylation of sn-1,2-diacylglycerol to form seed oil triacylglycerol (TAG). To understand the features of genes encoding soybean (Glycine max) DGATs and possible roles in soybean seed oil synthesis and accumulation, two full-length cDNAs encoding type 1 diacylglycerol acyltransferases (GmDGAT1A and GmDGAT1B) were cloned from developing soybean seeds. These coding sequences share identities of 94 % and 95 % in protein and DNA sequences. The genomic architectures of GmDGAT1A and GmDGAT1B both contain 15 introns and 16 exons. Differences in the lengths of the first exon and most of the introns were found between GmDGAT1A and GmDGAT1B genomic sequences. Furthermore, detailed in silico analysis revealed a third predicted DGAT1, GmDGAT1C. GmDGAT1A and GmDGAT1B were found to have similar activity levels and substrate specificities. Oleoyl-CoA and sn-1,2-diacylglycerol were preferred substrates over vernoloyl-CoA and sn-1,2-divernoloylglycerol. Both transcripts are much more abundant in developing seeds than in other tissues including leaves, stem, roots, and flowers. Both soybean DGAT1A and DGAT1B are highly expressed at developing seed stages of maximal TAG accumulation with DGAT1B showing highest expression at somewhat later stages than DGAT1A. DGAT1A and DGAT1B show expression profiles consistent with important roles in soybean seed oil biosynthesis and accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-113
Number of pages15
JournalFunctional and Integrative Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This work was supported by the United Soybean Board; the Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation; Ashland, Inc.; and the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research as well as National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.30971806). The editorial input of Jessime Kirk and Richard Joost is much appreciated.


  • DGAT specificity
  • DGAT1
  • Gene expression
  • Genomic architecture
  • Glycine max
  • Triacylglycerol metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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