Long-chain (≥ C20) polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA), such as eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3, EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3, DHA), are necessary for human health and are obtained from marine fish-derived oils. Marine fish are LC-PUFA-rich animals; however, many of them require LC-PUFA for growth. Therefore, it is suggested that they do not have sufficient ability to biosynthesize LC-PUFA. To evaluate in vivo LC-PUFA synthetic activity in fish cells, fish-derived cell lines from red sea bream (Pagrus major, PMS and PMF), Japanese flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus, HINAE), and zebrafish (Danio rerio, BRF41) were incubated with n-3 fatty acids labeled by radioisotopes or stable isotopes, and then, n-3 PUFA were analyzed by thin-layer chromatography or liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Labeled EPA and DHA were biosynthesized from labeled α-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) in BRF41, whereas they were not detected in PMS, PMF, or HINAE cells. We next cloned the fatty acid desaturase 2 (Fads2) cDNAs from PMF cells and zebrafish, expressed in budding yeasts, and then analyzed the substrate specificities of enzymes. As a result, we found that Fads2 from PMF cells was a ∆6/∆8 desaturase. Collectively, our study indicates that cell lines from red sea bream and Japanese flounder were not able to synthesize EPA or DHA by themselves, possibly due to the lack of ∆5 desaturase activity. Furthermore, this study provides a sensitive and reproducible non-radioactive method for evaluating LC-PUFA synthesis in fish cells using a stable isotope and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.
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