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The YBR159w gene encodes the major 3-ketoreductase activity of the elongase system of enzymes required for very long-chain fatty acid (VLCFA) synthesis. Mutants lacking the YBR159w gene display many of the phenotypes that have previously been described for mutants with defects in fatty acid elongation. These phenotypes include reduced VLCFA synthesis, accumulation of high levels of dihydrosphingosine and phytosphingosine, and accumulation of medium-chain ceramides. In vitro elongation assays confirm that the ybr159Δ mutant is deficient in the reduction of the 3-ketoacyl intermediates of fatty acid elongation. The ybr159Δ mutant also displays reduced dehydration of the 3-OH acyl intermediates of fatty acid elongation, suggesting that Ybr159p is required for the stability or function of the dehydratase activity of the elongase system. Green fluorescent protein- tagged Ybr159p co-localizes and co-immunoprecipitates with other elongating enzymes, Elo3p and Tsc13p. Whereas VLCFA synthesis is essential for viability, the ybr159Δ mutant cells are viable (albeit very slowly growing) and do synthesize some VLCFA. This suggested that a functional ortholog of Ybr159p exists that is responsible for the residual 3-ketoreductase activity. By disrupting the orthologs of Ybr159w in the ybr159Δ mutant we found that the ybr159Δayr1Δ double mutant was inviable, suggesting that Ayr1p is responsible for the residual 3-ketoreductase activity.