Characterization of a lipid droplet protein from Yarrowia lipolytica that is required for its oleaginous phenotype

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Biol Lipids. 2018 Oct;1863(10):1193-1205. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2018.07.010. Epub 2018 Jul 25.


Oleaginous microorganisms are characterized by their ability to store high amounts of triacylglycerol (TAG) in intracellular lipid droplets (LDs). In this work, we characterized a protein of the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica that is associated with LD and plays a role in the regulation of TAG storage. This protein is required for the oleaginous phenotype of Y. lipolytica because deletion of the coding gene results in a strongly reduced TAG content of the mutant. Therefore, we named it Oleaginicity Inducing LD protein, Oil1. Furthermore, a mutant overexpressing OIL1 accumulates more TAG than the wild type and is delayed in TAG lipolysis when this process is stimulated. We found that Oil1p plays a role in protecting the TAG content of the LD from degradation through lipases under conditions where the cell aims at building up its TAG reserves. Heterologous expression studies showed that Oil1p rescued the phenotype of a Saccharomyces cerevisiae mutant deleted for the perilipin-like protein Pln1p and that its expression in COS-7 cells resulted in increased TAG accumulation, similar to the phenotype of a perilipin 1 expressing control strain. Despite this phenotypical parallels to mammalian perilipins, Oil1p is not a member of this protein family and its activity does not depend on phosphorylation. Rather, our results suggest that ubiquitination might contribute to the function of Oil1p in Y. lipolytica and that a different mechanism evolved in this species to regulate TAG homeostasis.

Keywords: Lipid droplet; Lipolysis; Oleaginous; Perilipin; Triacylglycerol; Yeast.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Esters / metabolism
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Lipase / metabolism
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism*
  • Lipids / chemistry*
  • Metabolic Engineering
  • Phenotype
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Triglycerides / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination
  • Yarrowia / metabolism*


  • Esters
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Lipase