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EMBO Mol Med. 2010 Mar;2(3):90-7. doi: 10.1002/emmm.201000061.

The role of ELOVL1 in very long-chain fatty acid homeostasis and X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy.

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Academic Medical Center, Departments of Pediatrics and Clinical Chemistry, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) is caused by mutations in the ABCD1 gene encoding the peroxisomal ABC transporter adrenoleukodystrophy protein (ALDP). X-ALD is characterized by the accumulation of very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFA; > or =C24) in plasma and tissues. In this manuscript we provide insight into the pathway underlying the elevated levels of C26:0 in X-ALD. ALDP transports VLCFacyl-CoA across the peroxisomal membrane. A deficiency in ALDP impairs peroxisomal beta-oxidation of VLCFA but also raises cytosolic levels of VLCFacyl-CoA which are substrate for further elongation. We identify ELOVL1 (elongation of very-long-chain-fatty acids) as the single elongase catalysing the synthesis of both saturated VLCFA (C26:0) and mono-unsaturated VLCFA (C26:1). ELOVL1 expression is not increased in X-ALD fibroblasts suggesting that increased levels of C26:0 result from increased substrate availability due to the primary deficiency in ALDP. Importantly, ELOVL1 knockdown reduces elongation of C22:0 to C26:0 and lowers C26:0 levels in X-ALD fibroblasts. Given the likely pathogenic effects of high C26:0 levels, our findings highlight the potential of modulating ELOVL1 activity in the treatment of X-ALD.

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