The present invention relates to novel diacylglycerol acyltransferase genes and proteins, and methods of their use. In particular, the invention describes genes encoding proteins having diacylglycerol acetyltransferase activity, specifically for transferring an acetyl group to a diacylglycerol substrate to form acetyl-Triacylglycerols (ac-TAGS), for example, a 3-acetyl-1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol. The present invention encompasses both native and recombinant wild-type forms of the transferase, as well as mutants and variant forms. The present invention also relates to methods of using novel diacylglycerol acyltransferase genes and proteins, including their expression in transgenic organisms at commercially viable levels, for increasing production of 3-acetyl-1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerols in plant oils and altering the composition of oils produced by microorganisms, such as yeast, by increasing ac-TAG production. Additionally, oils produced by methods of the present inventions comprising genes and proteins are contemplated for use as biodiesel fuel, in polymer production and as naturally produced food oils with reduced calories.
This invention was made with government support under DE-FC02-07ER64494 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy and under 2005-35504-16195 awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The government has certain rights in the invention.