Advances in experimental medicine and biology

Biosynthesis of ricinoleate in castor oil.

PMID 10335384


Castor oil is 90% ricinoleate (12-hydroxyoleate) and has numerous industrial uses. Components of castor bean (Ricinus communis L.) pose serious problems to processors. Other researchers have cloned the gene for the oleoyl hydroxylase, but transgenic plants produce only about 20% hydroxy fatty acid. To improve such transgenic substitutes for castor, we are using HPLC analysis of castor bean microsomal suspensions to follow the hydroxylase reaction and the movement of 14C-ricinoleate through phospholipid into triacylglycerol. Most labeled ricinoleate is rapidly removed from the phospholipid fraction as free fatty acid and incorporated into triacylglycerol, with triricinolein predominating. Elucidation of the basis for high incorporation of ricinoleate and exclusion of oleate from triacylglycerols will identify genes that can be used to engineer high ricinoleate production in transgenic plants.