Biogenesis of cytoplasmic lipid droplets: from the lipid ester globule in the membrane to the visible structure

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Jun;1791(6):399-407. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2008.10.002. Epub 2008 Oct 21.


The cytoplasmic lipid droplet (CLD) and very low-density lipoprotein are generated from the lipid ester synthesized in the endoplasmic reticulum. The lipid ester deposited between the two membrane leaflets is supposed to bulge toward the cytoplasm to make a nascent CLD, but its size must be below the resolution limit of conventional techniques and the detectable CLD should only form after acquisition of additional lipid esters. The CLD is different from vesicular organelles in that the internal content is highly hydrophobic and the shape is invariably spherical. Due to its unique characteristics, quantitative discordance between the surface and the volume may occur in the growth and/or involution processes of the CLD. The possibility that these processes may give rise to the structural and functional diversities of the CLD is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acyltransferases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cholesterol Esters / chemistry
  • Cholesterol Esters / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / enzymology
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Organelle Size
  • Organelles / enzymology
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • Organelles / ultrastructure
  • Triglycerides / chemistry
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*


  • Cholesterol Esters
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Acyltransferases