SIRT3 Acts as a Positive Autophagy Regulator to Promote Lipid Mobilization in Adipocytes via Activating AMPK

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jan 7;21(2):372. doi: 10.3390/ijms21020372.


Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate worldwide, which is characterized by the excessive accumulation of triglycerides in adipocytes. Emerging evidence has demonstrated that macroautophagy and chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) regulate lipid mobilization and play a key role in energy balance. Sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) is an NAD+-dependent deacetylase, which is important in regulating macroautophagy and lipid metabolism. It is still unknown whether SIRT3 modulates macroautophagy and CMA in adipocytes. The current study found that macroautophagy was dynamically regulated during 3T3-L1 adipocyte differentiation, which coincided with SIRT3 expression. In mature adipocytes, overexpression of SIRT3 activated macroautophagy, mainly on lipid droplets (LDs), through activating the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)-unc-51-like kinase 1 (ULK1) pathway, which in turn resulting in smaller LD size and reduced lipid accumulation. Moreover, SIRT3 overexpression induced the formation of perilipin-1 (PLN1)-heat shock cognate 71 kDa protein (HSC70)-lysosome-associated membrane protein 2 (LAMP2) complex, to activate CMA and cause the instability of LDs in adipocytes. In summary, we found SIRT3 is a positive regulator of macroautophagy and CMA in adipocytes, which might be a promising therapeutic target for treatment of obesity and its related metabolic dysfunction.

Keywords: AMPK; chaperone-mediated autophagy; lipid metabolism; macroautophagy; sirtuin 3.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Adipogenesis
  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Lipid Mobilization*
  • Mice
  • Sirtuin 3 / metabolism*


  • Sirt3 protein, mouse
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Sirtuin 3