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J Mol Biol. 2011 Aug 19;411(3):537-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2011.06.011. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Regulation of fat storage and reproduction by Krüppel-like transcription factor KLF3 and fat-associated genes in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Laboratory of Developmental Biology, Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute, New York Blood Center, 310 East 67th Street, New York, NY 10065, USA.


Coordinated regulation of fat storage and utilization is essential for energy homeostasis, and its disruption is associated with metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis in humans. Across species, Krüppel-like transcription factors (KLFs) have been identified as key components of adipogenesis. In humans, KLF14 acts as a master transregulator of adipose gene expression in type 2 diabetes and cis-acting expression quantitative trait locus associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Herein we report that, in Caenorhabditis elegans, mutants in klf-3 accumulate large fat droplets rich in neutral lipids in the intestine; this lipid accumulation is associated with an increase in triglyceride levels. The klf-3 mutants show normal pharyngeal pumping; however, they are sterile or semisterile. We explored important genetic interactions of klf-3 with the genes encoding enzymes involved in fatty acid (FA) β-oxidation in mitochondria or peroxisomes and FA synthesis in the cytosol, namely acyl-CoA synthetase (acs-1 and acs-2), acyl-CoA oxidase (F08A8.1 and F08A8.2), and stearoyl-CoA desaturase (fat-7). We show that mutations or RNA interference in these genes increases fat deposits in the intestine of acs-1, acs-2, F08A8.1, and F08A8 animals. We further show that acs-1 and F08A8.1 influence larval development and fertility, respectively. Thus, KLF3 may regulate FA utilization in the intestine and reproductive tissue. We demonstrate that depletion of F08A8.1 activity, but not of acs-1, acs-2, F08A8.2, or fat-7 activity, enhances the fat phenotype of the klf-3 mutant. Taken together, these results suggest that klf-3 regulates lipid metabolism, along with acs-1, acs-2, F08A8.1, and F08A8.2, by promoting FA β-oxidation and, in parallel, may contribute to normal reproductive behavior and fecundity in C. elegans.

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