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J Lipid Res. 1992 Nov;33(11):1597-605.

Peroxisomal beta-oxidation of branched chain fatty acids in human skin fibroblasts.

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Department of Chemical Pathology, Adelaide Children's Hospital, South Australia.


Human skin fibroblasts in suspension are able to degrade [1-14C]-labeled alpha- and gamma-methyl branched chain fatty acids such as pristanic and homophytanic acid. Pristanic acid was converted to propionyl-CoA, whereas homophytanic acid was beta-oxidized to acetyl-CoA. Incubation of skin fibroblasts with [1-14C]-labeled fatty acids for longer periods produced radiolabeled carbon dioxide, presumably by further degradation of acetyl-CoA or propionyl-CoA generated by beta-oxidation. Under the same conditions similar products were produced from very long chain fatty acids, such as lignoceric acid. Inclusion of digitonin (> 10 micrograms/ml) in the incubations strongly inhibited carbon dioxide production but stimulated acetyl-CoA or propionyl-CoA production from fatty acids. ATP, Mg2+, coenzyme A, NAD+ and L-carnitine stimulated acetyl-CoA or propionyl-CoA production from [1-14C]-labeled fatty acids in skin fibroblast suspensions. Branched chain fatty acid beta-oxidation was reduced in peroxisome-deficient cells (Zellweger syndrome and infantile Refsum's disease) but they were beta-oxidized normally in cells from patients with X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). Under the same conditions, lignoceric acid beta-oxidation was impaired in the above three peroxisomal disease states. These results provide evidence that branched chain fatty acid, as well as very long chain fatty acid, beta-oxidation occurs only in peroxisomes. As the defect in X-linked ALD is in a peroxisomal fatty acyl-CoA synthetase, which is believed to be specific for very long chain fatty acids, we postulate that different synthetases are involved in the activation of branched chain and very long chain fatty acids in peroxisomes.

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