Microsomal triglyceride transfer protein expression in adipocytes: a new component in fat metabolism

FEBS Lett. 2005 Jun 6;579(14):3183-9. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2005.05.009.


Microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP) is a carrier of triglyceride essential for the assembly of apolipoprotein (apo)B-containing lipoproteins by the liver and the small intestine. Its role in triglyceride transfer in tissues that do not secrete lipoproteins has not been explored. In particular, MTP would seem to be a candidate for a role in triglyceride metabolism within the adipocyte. To test this hypothesis, we probed adipocytes for the presence of MTP. Immunohistochemical and biochemical studies demonstrate MTP in adipocytes from brown and white fat depots of mice and human, as well as in 3T3-L1 cells. Confocal microscopy revealed MTP throughout 3T3 cells; however, MTP fluorescence was prominent in juxtanuclear areas. In differentiated 3T3 cells MTP fluorescence was very striking around lipid droplets. In vitro lipid transfer assays demonstrated the presence of triglyceride transfer activity within microsomal fractions isolated from rat adipose tissue. In addition, quantitative rtPCR studies showed that MTP expression in mouse white fat depots was approximately 1% of MTP expression in mouse liver. MTP mRNA in differentiated 3T3 cells was approximately 13% of liver expression. Our results provide unequivocal evidence for the presence of MTP in adipocytes and present new possibilities for defining the mechanisms by which triglyceride is stored and/or hydrolyzed and mobilized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Fats / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Fats
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Triglycerides
  • microsomal triglyceride transfer protein