Breaking fat! How mycobacteria and other intracellular pathogens manipulate host lipid droplets

Biochimie. 2017 Oct;141:54-61. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2017.06.001. Epub 2017 Jun 3.

Abstract

Tuberculosis (Tb) is a lung infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). With one third of the world population latently infected, it represents the most prevalent bacterial infectious diseases worldwide. Typically, persistence is linked to so-called "dormant" slow-growing bacteria, which have a low metabolic rate and a reduced response to antibiotic treatments. However, dormant bacteria regain growth and virulence when the immune system is weakened, leading again to the active form of the disease. Fatty acids (FAs) released from host triacylglycerols (TAGs) and sterols are proposed to serve as sole carbon sources during infection. The metabolism of FAs requires beta-oxidation as well as gluconeogenesis and the glyoxylate shunt. Interestingly, the Mtb genome encodes more than hundred proteins involved in the five reactions of beta-oxidation, clearly demonstrating the importance of lipids as energy source. FAs have also been proposed to play a role during resuscitation, the resumption of replicative activities from dormancy. Lipid droplets (LDs) are energy and carbon reservoirs and have been described in all domains. TAGs and sterol esters (SEs) are stored in their hydrophobic core, surrounded by a phospholipid monolayer. Importantly, host LDs have been described as crucial for several intracellular bacterial pathogens and viruses and specifically translocate to the pathogen-containing vacuole (PVC) during mycobacteria infection. FAs released from host LDs are used by the pathogen as energy source and as building blocks for membrane synthesis. Despite their essential role, the mechanisms by which pathogenic mycobacteria induce the cellular redistribution of LDs and gain access to the stored lipids are still poorly understood. This review describes recent evidence about the dual interaction of mycobacteria with host LDs and membrane phospholipids and integrates them in a broader view of the underlying cellular processes manipulated by various intracellular pathogens to gain access to host lipids.

Keywords: Dictyostelium discoideum; Dormancy; Intracytosolic lipid inclusion; Lipid droplet; Mycobacteria; Perilipin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • Humans
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism*
  • Lipid Droplets / microbiology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Triglycerides / metabolism
  • Tuberculosis / metabolism*

Substances

  • Fatty Acids
  • Triglycerides