Fatty acids (FAs) are diverse molecules, and such diversity is important for lipids to exert their functions under several environmental conditions. FA elongation occurs at the endoplasmic reticulum and produces a variety of FA species; the FA elongation cycle consists of four distinct enzyme reactions. For this cycle to be driven efficiently, there must exist coordinated regulation of protein components of the FA elongation machinery. However, such regulation is poorly understood. In the present study, we performed biochemical analyses using the FA elongase ELOVL6 and the 3-ketoacyl-CoA reductase KAR, which catalyze the first and second steps of the FA elongation cycle, respectively. In vitro FA elongation assays using membrane fractions demonstrated that ELOVL6 activity was enhanced ,10-fold in the presence of NADPH, although ELOVL6 itself did not require NADPH for its catalysis. On the other hand, KAR does use NADPH as a reductant in its enzyme reaction. Activity of purified ELOVL6 was enhanced by ∼3-fold in the presence of KAR. This effect was KAR enzyme activity-independent, since it was observed in the absence of NADPH and in the KAR mutant. However, ELOVL6 enzyme activity was further enhanced in a KAR enzyme activity-dependent manner. Therefore, KAR regulates ELOVL6 via two modes. In the first mode, KAR may induce conformational changes in ELOVL6 to become structure that can undergo catalysis. In the second mode, conversion of 3-ketoacyl-CoA to 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA by KAR may facilitate release of the product from the presumed ELOVL6-KAR complex.
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