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J Lipid Res. 2008 Oct;49(10):2079-88. doi: 10.1194/jlr.R800013-JLR200. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Thematic review series: glycerolipids. Mammalian glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferases: new genes for an old activity.

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Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases, Wyeth Research, Cambridge, MA 02140, USA.


Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferases (GPATs; EC2.3.1.15) catalyze the first step in the de novo synthesis of neutral lipids (triglycerides) and glycerophospholipids. The existence of multiple enzyme isoforms with GPAT activity was predicted many years ago when GPAT activities with distinct kinetic profiles and sensitivity to inhibitors were characterized in two subcellular compartments, mitochondria and microsomes. We now know that mammals have at least four GPAT isoforms with distinct tissue distribution and function. GPAT1 is the major mitochondrial GPAT isoform and is characterized by its resistance to sulfhydryl-modifying reagents, such as N-ethylmaleimide (NEM). GPAT2 is a minor NEM-sensitive mitochondrial isoform. The activity referred to as microsomal GPAT is encoded by two closely related genes, GPAT3 and GPAT4. GPAT isoforms are important regulators of cellular triglyceride and phospholipid content, and may channel fatty acids toward particular metabolic fates. Overexpression and knock-out studies suggest that GPAT isoforms can play important roles in the development of hepatic steatosis, insulin resistance, and obesity; GPAT isoforms are also important for lactation. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge on mammalian GPAT isoforms.

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