AMPK Activation Promotes Lipid Droplet Dispersion on Detyrosinated Microtubules to Increase Mitochondrial Fatty Acid Oxidation

Nat Commun. 2015 May 27;6:7176. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8176.


Lipid droplets (LDs) are intracellular organelles that provide fatty acids (FAs) to cellular processes including synthesis of membranes and production of metabolic energy. While known to move bidirectionally along microtubules (MTs), the role of LD motion and whether it facilitates interaction with other organelles are unclear. Here we show that during nutrient starvation, LDs and mitochondria relocate on detyrosinated MT from the cell centre to adopt a dispersed distribution. In the cell periphery, LD-mitochondria interactions increase and LDs efficiently supply FAs for mitochondrial beta-oxidation. This cellular adaptation requires the activation of the energy sensor AMPK, which in response to starvation simultaneously increases LD motion, reorganizes the network of detyrosinated MTs and activates mitochondria. In conclusion, we describe the existence of a specialized cellular network connecting the cellular energetic status and MT dynamics to coordinate the functioning of LDs and mitochondria during nutrient scarcity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Tyrosine / metabolism
  • Vero Cells


  • Fatty Acids
  • Tyrosine
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases