Journal of Chemical Biology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 121–133 | Cite as

Lack of activation of UCP1 in isolated brown adipose tissue mitochondria by glucose-O-ω-modified saturated fatty acids of various chain lengths

  • Eamon P. Breen
  • Wayne Pilgrim
  • Kieran J. Clarke
  • Cristy Yssel
  • Mark Farrell
  • Jian Zhou
  • Paul V. Murphy
  • Richard K. PorterEmail author
Original Article


We previously demonstrated that uncoupling protein 1 activity, as measured in isolated brown adipose tissue mitochondria (and as a native protein reconstituted into liposome membranes), was not activated by the non-flippable modified saturated fatty acid, glucose-O-ω-palmitate, whereas activity was stimulated by palmitate alone (40 nM free final concentration). In this study, we investigated whether fatty acid chain length had any bearing on the ability of glucose-O-ω-fatty acids to activate uncoupling protein 1. Glucose-O-ω-saturated fatty acids of various chain lengths were synthesized and tested for their potential to activate GDP-inhibited uncoupling protein 1-dependent oxygen consumption in brown adipose tissue mitochondria, and the results were compared with equivalent non-modified fatty acid controls. Here we demonstrate that laurate (12C), palmitate (16C) and stearate (18C) could activate GDP-inhibited uncoupling protein 1-dependent oxygen consumption in brown adipose tissue mitochondria, whereas there was no activation with glucose-O-ω-laurate (12C), glucose-O-ω-palmitate (16C), glucose-O-ω-stearate (18C), glucose-O-ω-arachidate (20C) or arachidate alone. We conclude that non-flippable fatty acids cannot activate uncoupling protein 1 irrespective of chain length. Our data further undermine the cofactor activation model of uncoupling protein 1 function but are compatible with the model that uncoupling protein 1 functions by flipping long-chain fatty acid anions.


Mitochondria UCP1 Glucose-O-ω-fatty acids BAT 





Brown adipose tissue


Distortionless enhancement by polarization transfer


Heteronuclear multiple-bond correlation


Heteronuclear multiple-quantum correlation






Uncoupling protein



The research in this manuscript was funded by a Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator grant to RKP and a Trinity Studentship award to KJC. RKP is a member of the MITOFOOD COST action (FA0602). Higher Education Authority Programme for Research Cycle 3 for funding to PVM.

Supplementary material

12154_2013_93_MOESM1_ESM.docx (6.8 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 6941 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eamon P. Breen
    • 1
  • Wayne Pilgrim
    • 2
  • Kieran J. Clarke
    • 1
  • Cristy Yssel
    • 1
  • Mark Farrell
    • 2
  • Jian Zhou
    • 2
  • Paul V. Murphy
    • 2
  • Richard K. Porter
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences InstituteTrinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland
  2. 2.School of ChemistryNational University of Ireland GalwayGalwayIreland

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