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Protoplasma

, Volume 249, Issue 3, pp 541–585 | Cite as

The dynamic roles of intracellular lipid droplets: from archaea to mammals

  • Denis J. Murphy
Review Article

Abstract

During the past decade, there has been a paradigm shift in our understanding of the roles of intracellular lipid droplets (LDs). New genetic, biochemical and imaging technologies have underpinned these advances, which are revealing much new information about these dynamic organelles. This review takes a comparative approach by examining recent work on LDs across the whole range of biological organisms from archaea and bacteria, through yeast and Drosophila to mammals, including humans. LDs probably evolved originally in microorganisms as temporary stores of excess dietary lipid that was surplus to the immediate requirements of membrane formation/turnover. LDs then acquired roles as long-term carbon stores that enabled organisms to survive episodic lack of nutrients. In multicellular organisms, LDs went on to acquire numerous additional roles including cell- and organism-level lipid homeostasis, protein sequestration, membrane trafficking and signalling. Many pathogens of plants and animals subvert their host LD metabolism as part of their infection process. Finally, malfunctions in LDs and associated proteins are implicated in several degenerative diseases of modern humans, among the most serious of which is the increasingly prevalent constellation of pathologies, such as obesity and insulin resistance, which is associated with metabolic syndrome.

Keywords

Lipid droplet Trafficking Membrane Signalling Storage 

Abbreviations

ABA

Abscisic acid

DAG

Diacylglycerol

ER

Endoplasmic reticulum

LD

Lipid droplet

MLDP

Myocardial lipid droplet protein

PA

Phosphatidic acid

PAT

Perlipin, adipophilin and TIP47 (now termed Plin)

PC

Phosphatidylcholine

PE

Phosphatidylethanolamine

PHA

Polyhydroxyalkanoate

PHB

Polyhydroxybutyrate

PHB/V

Co-polymer of hydroxybutyrate and hydroxyvalerate

Plin

Perilipin

PPAR

Peroxisome proliferator-activated nuclear receptor

TAG

Triacylglycerol

TIP47

Tail-interacting 47-kDa protein (or Plin3)

WS

Wax ester synthase

WS/DGAT

Wax ester synthetase/diacylglycerol acyltransferase

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to the many colleagues who kindly sent me copies of recent publications, including many pre-publication manuscripts.

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© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of GlamorganCardiffUK

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