The role of ethanolamine phosphate phospholyase in regulation of astrocyte lipid homeostasis

J Biol Chem. 2021 Jul;297(1):100830. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2021.100830. Epub 2021 May 26.


Dietary lipid composition has been shown to impact brain morphology, brain development, and neurologic function. However, how diet uniquely regulates brain lipid homeostasis compared with lipid homeostasis in peripheral tissues remains largely uncharacterized. To evaluate the lipid response to dietary changes in the brain, we assessed actively translating mRNAs in astrocytes and neurons across multiple diets. From this data, ethanolamine phosphate phospholyase (Etnppl) was identified as an astrocyte-specific fasting-induced gene. Etnppl catabolizes phosphoethanolamine (PEtN), a prominent headgroup precursor in phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) also found in other classes of neurologically relevant lipid species. Altered Etnppl expression has also previously been associated with humans with mood disorders. We evaluated the relevance of Etnppl in maintaining brain lipid homeostasis by characterizing Etnppl across development and in coregulation with PEtN-relevant genes, as well as determining the impact to the brain lipidome after Etnppl loss. We found that Etnppl expression dramatically increased during a critical window of early brain development in mice and was also induced by glucocorticoids. Using a constitutive knockout of Etnppl (EtnpplKO), we did not observe robust changes in expression of PEtN-related genes. However, loss of Etnppl altered the phospholipid profile in the brain, resulting in increased total abundance of PE and in polyunsaturated fatty acids within PE and phosphatidylcholine species in the brain. Together, these data suggest that brain phospholipids are regulated by the phospholyase action of the enzyme Etnppl, which is induced by dietary fasting in astrocytes.

Keywords: astrocyte; brain; glucocorticoid; lipid; liver; phosphatidylethanolamine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Diet
  • Ethanolamines / metabolism*
  • Fasting
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Homeostasis* / drug effects
  • Lipid Metabolism* / drug effects
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Phosphorus-Oxygen Lyases / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / drug effects
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Substrate Specificity / drug effects


  • Ethanolamines
  • Fatty Acids
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Phospholipids
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • phosphorylethanolamine
  • Etnppl protein, mouse
  • Phosphorus-Oxygen Lyases