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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2006 Jun;63(12):1355-69.

The life cycle of neutral lipids: synthesis, storage and degradation.

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Institute of Biochemistry, Graz University of Technology, Petersgasse 12/2, 8010 Graz, Austria.


Triacylglycerols (TAGs), steryl esters (SEs) and wax esters (WEs) form the group of neutral lipids. Whereas TAGs are present in all types of cell, the occurrence of SEs in prokaryotes is questionable, and the presence of WEs as storage molecules is restricted to plants and a few bacteria. Here, we summarize recent knowledge on the formation, storage and degradation of TAGs and SEs in various cell types. We describe the biochemical pathways involved in TAG and SE synthesis and discuss the subcellular compartmentation of these processes. Recently, several novel enzymes governing the metabolism of storage lipids have been identified and characterized. Regulatory aspects of neutral lipid storage are just beginning to be understood. Finally, we describe consequences of defects in neutral lipid metabolism. Since severe diseases like atherosclerosis, obesity and type 2 diabetes are caused by lipid accumulation, mechanisms underlying neutral lipid synthesis, depot formation and mobilization are of major interest for curing such diseases that are increasingly associated with modern civilization.

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