A role for lipid droplets in inter-membrane lipid traffic

Proteomics. 2009 Feb;9(4):914-21. doi: 10.1002/pmic.200800584.


All cells have the capacity to accumulate neutral lipids and package them into lipid droplets. Recent proteomic analyses indicate that lipid droplets are not simple lipid storage depots, but rather complex organelles that have multiple cellular functions. One of these proposed functions is to distribute neutral lipids as well as phospholipids to various membrane-bound organelles within the cell. Here, we summarize the lipid droplet-associated membrane-trafficking proteins and review the evidence that lipid droplets interact with endoplasmic reticulum, endosomes, peroxisomes, and mitochondria. Based on this evidence, we present a model for how lipid droplets can distribute lipids to specific membrane compartments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lipids / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Protein Transport / physiology*
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / metabolism*


  • Lipids
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phospholipids
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins