Dynamics and Molecular Determinants of Cytoplasmic Lipid Droplet Clustering and Dispersion

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 25;8(6):e66837. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066837. Print 2013.


Perilipin-1 (Plin1), a prominent cytoplasmic lipid droplet (CLD) binding phosphoprotein and key physiological regulator of triglyceride storage and lipolysis in adipocytes, is thought to regulate the fragmentation and dispersion of CLD that occurs in response to β-adrenergic activation of adenylate cyclase. Here we investigate the dynamics and molecular determinants of these processes using cell lines stably expressing recombinant forms of Plin1 and/or other members of the perilipin family. Plin1 and a C-terminal CLD-binding fragment of Plin1 (Plin1CT) induced formation of single dense CLD clusters near the microtubule organizing center, whereas neither an N-terminal CLD-binding fragment of Plin1, nor Plin2 or Plin3 induced clustering. Clustered CLD coated by Plin1, or Plin1CT, dispersed in response to isoproterenol, or other agents that activate adenylate cyclase, in a process inhibited by the protein kinase A inhibitor, H89, and blocked by microtubule disruption. Isoproterenol-stimulated phosphorylation of CLD-associated Plin1 on serine 492 preceded their dispersion, and live cell imaging showed that cluster dispersion involved initial fragmentation of tight clusters into multiple smaller clusters, which then fragmented into well-dispersed individual CLD. siRNA knockdown of the cortical actin binding protein, moesin, induced disaggregation of tight clusters into multiple smaller clusters, and inhibited the reaggregation of dispersed CLD into tight clusters. Together these data suggest that the clustering and dispersion processes involve a complex orchestration of phosphorylation-dependent, microtubule-dependent and independent, and microfilament dependent steps.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasm / drug effects
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Isoproterenol / pharmacology
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Organelles / drug effects
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • Phosphoproteins / chemistry
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects


  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • moesin
  • Isoproterenol