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J. Clin. Med. 2016, 5(2), 19; doi:10.3390/jcm5020019

Using Caenorhabditis elegans to Uncover Conserved Functions of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

School of Molecular Biosciences and Center for Reproductive Biology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA
Academic Editors: Lindsay Brown, Bernhard Rauch and Hemant Poudyal
Received: 11 December 2015 / Revised: 5 January 2016 / Accepted: 28 January 2016 / Published: 2 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Health and Disease)
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Abstract

The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a powerful model organism to study functions of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The ability to alter fatty acid composition with genetic manipulation and dietary supplementation permits the dissection of the roles of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in many biological process including reproduction, aging and neurobiology. Studies in C. elegans to date have mostly identified overlapping functions of 20-carbon omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in reproduction and in neurons, however, specific roles for either omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids are beginning to emerge. Recent findings with importance to human health include the identification of a conserved Cox-independent prostaglandin synthesis pathway, critical functions for cytochrome P450 derivatives of polyunsaturated fatty acids, the requirements for omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in sensory neurons, and the importance of fatty acid desaturation for long lifespan. Furthermore, the ability of C. elegans to interconvert omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids using the FAT-1 omega-3 desaturase has been exploited in mammalian studies and biotechnology approaches to generate mammals capable of exogenous generation of omega-3 fatty acids. View Full-Text
Keywords: C. elegans; polyunsaturated fatty acids; fat-1; omega-3 desaturase C. elegans; polyunsaturated fatty acids; fat-1; omega-3 desaturase
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Watts, J.L. Using Caenorhabditis elegans to Uncover Conserved Functions of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids. J. Clin. Med. 2016, 5, 19.

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