Cell Biology

Fatty acid trafficking in starvation

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Science  27 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6229, pp. 1433
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6229.1433-c

Starving cells switch their metabolism from glucose-based to mitochondrial oxidation of fatty acids (FAs). This requires FAs to move from lipid droplets, their home during times of ample nutrition, to the mitochondria. Because free FAs in the cytoplasm are toxic to cells, cells stringently control their trafficking and metabolism. To better understand how cells coordinate these processes during starvation, Rambold et al. tracked fluorescently labeled FAs in live mouse cells. Enzymes called lipases freed FAs from lipid droplets, allowing their transfer to highly fused mitochondria located nearby. Autophagy, an intracellular degradation process, replenished FAs to lipid droplets. Such careful coordination allows cells to generate substrates for mitochondrial energy production while preventing free FAs-related toxicity.

Dev. Cell 10.1016/j.devcel.2015.01.029 (2015).

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