The Journal of cell biology

A conserved family of proteins facilitates nascent lipid droplet budding from the ER.

PMID 26504167


Lipid droplets (LDs) are found in all cells and play critical roles in lipid metabolism. De novo LD biogenesis occurs in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) but is not well understood. We imaged early stages of LD biogenesis using electron microscopy and found that nascent LDs form lens-like structures that are in the ER membrane, raising the question of how these nascent LDs bud from the ER as they grow. We found that a conserved family of proteins, fat storage-inducing transmembrane (FIT) proteins, is required for proper budding of LDs from the ER. Elimination or reduction of FIT proteins in yeast and higher eukaryotes causes LDs to remain in the ER membrane. Deletion of the single FIT protein in Caenorhabditis elegans is lethal, suggesting that LD budding is an essential process in this organism. Our findings indicated that FIT proteins are necessary to promote budding of nascent LDs from the ER.