Conjugated fatty acids (CFA) or more specifically conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) are important in the function of the human metabolism, immune system, and treatment of tumors. CLA can work by acting as a ligand and activating nuclear receptors associated with peroxisome proliferation. This process generates transcription factors which play a key role in controlling the overall metabolism of the cell. CLA is naturally present in the human diet from heated meat products and milk (Zheng 2002).
P. filicina contains a novel CFA isomerase called Polyenoic Fatty Acid Isomerase (PFI), a unique enzyme because it doesn’t seem to need molecular oxygen to function (Wise 1994). Researchers believe that the function of the PFI in the algae is to help reduce the effects of stressors of intertidal habitats including direct sunlight, desiccation, and high temperature (Zheng 2002). Experiments have proven that PFI can be cloned and the cDNA then inserted and expressed in other plant tissues, specifically Arabidopsis (Zheng 2002).
P. filicina contains a lectin, or sugar binding protein, normally involved in the
function of cell membrane recognition with the outer environment (Sampaio 1998). Lectins have specific binding abilities making them useful in blood typing and motor neurons tracing ("Lectins"). The specific lectin from P. filicina, dubbed PFL, is able to agglutinate, or congregate, human erythrocytes with special preference to blood Type O. Unlike other isolated lectins, PFL requires metal ions to function in haemagglutination and can be inhibited by simple sugars (Sampaio 1998).
“Lectins”. Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia. 6 May 2008. <http.//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/lectin#function_in_plants.>
Sampaio, A. H., D. J. Rogers, and C. J. Barwell. 1998. A galactose-specific lectin from the red marine alga Ptilota filicina. Phytochemistry 48:765-769.
Wise, M. L., M. Hamberg, and W. H. Gerwick. 1994. Biosynthesis of conjugated triene-containing fatty-acids by a novel isomerase from the red marine alga Ptilota filicina. Biochemistry 33:15223-15232.
Zheng, Wei, M.L. Wise, A. Wyrick, J.G. Metz, L. Yuan, and W.H. Gerwick. 2002. Plyenoic fatty acid isomerase from the marine alga Ptilota filicina: protein characterization and functional expression of the cloned cDNA. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 401: 11-20.