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PLoS Genet. 2009 Aug;5(8):e1000589. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000589. Epub 2009 Aug 7.

P-type ATPase TAT-2 negatively regulates monomethyl branched-chain fatty acid mediated function in post-embryonic growth and development in C. elegans.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA.


Monomethyl branched-chain fatty acids (mmBCFAs) are essential for Caenorhabditis elegans growth and development. To identify factors acting downstream of mmBCFAs for their function in growth regulation, we conducted a genetic screen for suppressors of the L1 arrest that occurs in animals depleted of the 17-carbon mmBCFA C17ISO. Three of the suppressor mutations defined an unexpected player, the P-type ATPase TAT-2, which belongs to the flippase family of proteins that are implicated in mediating phospholipid bilayer asymmetry. We provide evidence that TAT-2, but not other TAT genes, has a specific role in antagonizing the regulatory activity of mmBCFAs in intestinal cells. Interestingly, we found that mutations in tat-2 also suppress the lethality caused by inhibition of the first step in sphingolipid biosynthesis. We further showed that the fatty acid side-chains of glycosylceramides contain 20%-30% mmBCFAs and that this fraction is greatly diminished in the absence of mmBCFA biosynthesis. These results suggest a model in which a C17ISO-containing sphingolipid may mediate the regulatory functions of mmBCFAs and is negatively regulated by TAT-2 in intestinal cells. This work indicates a novel connection between a P-type ATPase and the critical regulatory function of a specific fatty acid.

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