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J Lipid Res. 2007 Dec;48(12):2547-59. Epub 2007 Sep 18.

Thematic review series: adipocyte biology. The perilipin family of structural lipid droplet proteins: stabilization of lipid droplets and control of lipolysis.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences and the Rutgers Center for Lipid Research, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.


The majority of eukaryotic cells synthesize neutral lipids and package them into cytosolic lipid droplets. In vertebrates, triacylglycerol-rich lipid droplets of adipocytes provide a major energy storage depot for the body, whereas cholesteryl ester-rich droplets of many other cells provide building materials for local membrane synthesis and repair. These lipid droplets are coated with one or more of five members of the perilipin family of proteins: adipophilin, TIP47, OXPAT/MLDP, S3-12, and perilipin. Members of this family share varying levels of sequence similarity, lipid droplet association, and functions in stabilizing lipid droplets. The most highly studied member of the family, perilipin, is the most abundant protein on the surfaces of adipocyte lipid droplets, and the major substrate for cAMP-dependent protein kinase [protein kinase A (PKA)] in lipolytically stimulated adipocytes. Perilipin serves important functions in the regulation of basal and hormonally stimulated lipolysis. Under basal conditions, perilipin restricts the access of cytosolic lipases to lipid droplets and thus promotes triacylglycerol storage. In times of energy deficit, perilipin is phosphorylated by PKA and facilitates maximal lipolysis by hormone-sensitive lipase and adipose triglyceride lipase. A model is discussed whereby perilipin serves as a dynamic scaffold to coordinate the access of enzymes to the lipid droplet in a manner that is responsive to the metabolic status of the adipocyte.

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