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Methods Enzymol. 2008;439:327-37. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(07)00424-7.

Rab-regulated membrane traffic between adiposomes and multiple endomembrane systems.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA.


Lipid droplets play a critical role in a variety of metabolic diseases. Numerous proteomic studies have provided detailed information about the protein composition of the droplet, which has revealed that they are functional organelles involved in many cellular processes, including lipid storage and metabolism, membrane traffic, and signal transduction. Thus, the droplet proteome indicates that lipid accumulation is only one of a constellation of organellar functions critical for normal lipid metabolism in the cell. As a result of this new understanding, we suggested the name adiposome for this organelle. The trafficking ability of the adiposome is likely to be very important for lipid uptake, retention, and distribution, as well as membrane biogenesis and lipid signaling. We have taken advantage of the ease of purifying lipid-filled adiposomes to develop a cell-free system for studying adiposome-mediated traffic. Using this approach, we have determined that the interaction between adiposomes and endosomes is dependent on Rab GTPases but is blocked by ATPase. These methods also allowed us to identify multiple proteins that dynamically associate with adiposomes in a nucleotide-dependent manner. An adiposome-endosome interaction in vitro occurs in the absence of cytosolic factors, which simplifies the assay dramatically. This assay will enable researchers to dissect the molecular mechanisms of interaction between these two organelles. This chapter provides a detailed account of the methods developed.

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