Molecule of the Week
September 30, 2013
5,8,11,14,17-Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a straight-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid whose double bonds all have the cis configuration. E. Klenk and D. Eberhagen isolated EPA from cod-liver oil in 1957. It is a biochemical precursor to the prostaglandin-3, thromboxane-3, and leukotriene-5 lipid families.
The supply of marine fish as the main source of EPA and other so-called omega-3 fatty acids is limited and unsustainable. Recently, Q. Zhu and co-workers at DuPont engineered Yarrowia lipolytica, an oleaginous yeast that accumulates lipids, to produce large amounts of EPA. These researchers believe that other Y. lipolytica strains may be able to produce other fatty acids and lipids for uses such as biodiesel fuel.