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J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 8;275(49):38486-93.

Perilipin A increases triacylglycerol storage by decreasing the rate of triacylglycerol hydrolysis.

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Department of Biochemistry, MCP Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19129, USA.


The perilipins are the most abundant proteins at the surfaces of lipid droplets in adipocytes and are also found in steroidogenic cells. To investigate perilipin function, perilipin A, the predominant isoform, was ectopically expressed in fibroblastic 3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes that normally lack the perilipins. In control cells, fluorescent staining of neutral lipids with Bodipy 493/503 showed a few minute and widely dispersed lipid droplets, while in cells stably expressing perilipin A, the lipid droplets were more numerous and tightly clustered in one or two regions of the cytoplasm. Immunofluorescence microscopy revealed that the ectopic perilipin A localized to the surfaces of the tiny clustered lipid droplets; subcellular fractionation of the cells using sucrose gradients confirmed that the perilipin A localized exclusively to lipid droplets. Cells expressing perilipin A stored 6-30-fold more triacylglycerol than control cells due to reduced lipolysis of triacylglycerol stores. The lipolysis of stored triacylglycerol was 5 times slower in lipid-loaded cells expressing perilipin A than in lipid-loaded control cells, when triacylglycerol synthesis was blocked with 6 microm triacsin C. This stabilization of triacylglycerol was not due to the suppression of triacylglycerol lipase activity by the expression of perilipin A. We conclude that perilipin A increases the triacylglycerol content of cells by forming a barrier that reduces the access of soluble lipases to stored lipids, thus inhibiting triacylglycerol hydrolysis. These studies suggest that perilipin A plays a major role in the regulation of triacylglycerol storage and lipolysis in adipocytes.

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