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Traffic. 2008 Mar;9(3):338-52. Epub 2007 Dec 11.

Imaging of lipid biosynthesis: how a neutral lipid enters lipid droplets.

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1
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Pfotenhauerstr. 108, D-01307 Dresden, Germany.

Abstract

The biosynthesis and storage of triglyceride (TG) is an important cellular process conserved from yeast to man. Most mammalian cells accumulate TG in lipid droplets, most prominent in adipocytes, which are specialized to store large amounts of the TG over long periods. In this study, we followed TG biosynthesis and targeting by fluorescence imaging in living 3T3-L1 adipocytes and COS7 fibroblasts. Key findings were (i) not only TG but also its direct metabolic precursor diacylglycerol, DG, accumulates on lipid droplets; (ii) the essential enzyme diacylglycerol acyltransferase 2 associates specifically with lipid droplets where it catalyzes the conversion of DG to TG and (iii) individual lipid droplets within one cell acquire TG at very different rates, suggesting unequal access to the biosynthetic machinery. We conclude that at least part of TG biosynthesis takes place in the immediate vicinity of lipid droplets. In vitro assays on purified lipid droplets show that this fraction of the biosynthetic TG is directly inserted into the growing droplet.

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