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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #282028


Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Title: Uniqueness Of docosahexaenoic acid: A master Of DNA and A Quantum gate

item Crawford, Michael
item Guest, Martin
item Broadhurst, C
item Schmidt, Walter
item Nagar, Atulya
item Wang, Yiqun

Submitted to: Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2012
Publication Date: 1/15/2013
Citation: Crawford, M., Guest, M., Broadhurst, C.L., Schmidt, W.F., Nagar, A., Wang, Y. 2013. Uniqueness Of docosahexaenoic acid: A master Of DNA and A Quantum gate. Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 88:5-13.

Interpretive Summary: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential fatty acid required for the proper structure/function of brain cells and for sight. For example, lack of DHA can result in permanent blindness because photoreceptors do not work properly. Since DHA is not “made” by humans, it must be obtained from eating plants and/or animals containing DHA. DHA is found in some of the oldest animals, such as jellyfish and scallops, where it appears to also pay a role in primitive nervous system structure/function. DHA has the capacity to repeatedly absorb (and release) light energy without structural failure. This manuscript proposes the mechanism by which DHA absorbs light and why it is critical at the molecular level in brain structure/function. This information will of use to other scientists in the nutritional and medical fields.

Technical Abstract: The fossil record displays the sudden appearance of intracellular detail and the 32 phyla in what is known as the “Cambrian Explosion” at about 600 million years ago. The intracellular structures were made with membrane lipids which provided for organisation and specialisation. Oxidative metabolism had increased the potential for making highly unsaturated fatty acids and thus producing a new and great variety of lipid molecular species available for the different functions of the specialised cell membranes. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) with 6 oxygen atoms required just to insert the 6 double bonds, was one of the many molecules created by oxidative metabolism. It provided the basic membrane core of the new photoreceptors that converted photons into electricity and stimulated the evolution of the nervous system and the brain. Since then, DHA has been conserved as the key acyl component of photoreceptor, synaptic and neuronal signaling membranes in the cephalopods, fish, amphibian, reptiles, birds, mammals and humans. This extreme conservation of DHA in electrical signaling membranes through a period of great genomic change suggests it was DHA dictating to the DNA rather than the generally accepted other way around. At the same time there needs to be an explanation for such extreme conservation for which we offer plausible explanation based on the quantum mechanical properties of DHA.