ATGL has a key role in lipid droplet/adiposome degradation in mammalian cells

EMBO Rep. 2006 Jan;7(1):106-13. doi: 10.1038/sj.embor.7400559.


Lipid droplets (LDs), also called adiposomes, are found in many eukaryotic cells, and are highly upregulated in lipid-storage cells, such as adipocytes. The mechanism by which adiposomes and their component neutral lipids are degraded is an important health issue with the rapidly spreading epidemic of obesity. Recently, a novel triglyceride lipase (adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL)) that catalyses the initial step in triglyceride hydrolysis in adipocyte LDs was identified. Here, we show that ATGL also functions in non-adipocyte cells, and has an important role in LD degradation in these cells. Overexpression of wild-type ATGL causes a marked decrease in LD size, whereas a catalytically inactive mutant retains the ability to localize to LDs, but is unable to decrease their size. Depletion of ATGL by RNA interference leads to a significant increase in the size of LDs. These results show that ATGL has an important role in LD/adiposome turnover in mammalian cells.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Lipase / classification
  • Lipase / genetics
  • Lipase / metabolism*
  • Lipids* / chemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Perilipin-3
  • Phylogeny
  • Pregnancy Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Lipids
  • PLIN3 protein, human
  • Perilipin-3
  • Pregnancy Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins
  • Lipase
  • TGL3 protein, S cerevisiae