Particulate fractions prepared from microspore-derived (MD) embryos of oilseed rape (Brassica napus L. cv. Reston) and an embryogenic MD cell suspension culture of oilseed rape (B. napus L. cv. Jet Neuf) were used as a source of diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT, EC 2.3.1.20) for enzyme characterization and development of a solubilization procedure. DGAT activity in the 1500-100,000 g fraction from MD embryos was stimulated 4-5-fold by 3 to 4 mg of BSA/ml of reaction mixture. DGAT activity from MD embryos was stimulated 2-3-fold by fluoride salts and 1.4-fold by NaCl, whereas iodide salts caused substantial inhibition of enzyme activity. The effect of the various 1:1 electrolytes on enzyme activity appeared to be related more to their differential effects on solution structure rather than ionic strength. DGAT was solubilized from membranes of MD embryos and the cell suspension culture by about 80 and 50% respectively, using 2 M NaCl in 1% (w/v) octanoyl-N-methyl-glucamide (MEGA-8) (pH 8.0 buffer) at a detergent to protein ratio of 2:1. The specific activity of solubilized DGAT was about 2-fold greater than that of the particulate enzyme. The mechanism of solubilization appeared to be related to the lowering of the critical micellar concentration of MEGA-8 in the presence of NaCl. DGAT, solubilized from MD embryos, eluted with an M(r) of about 2 x 10(6) during gel-filtration chromatography on a Superose 6 column equilibrated in buffer containing 0.1% (w/v) MEGA-8. The solubilized enzyme exhibited optimal activity at pH 7. At concentrations above 2 microM acyl-CoA, the specificity of solubilized DGAT for oleoyl-CoA and palmitoyl-CoA was considerably greater than for stearoyl-CoA.

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