PloS one

Feeding-fasting dependent recruitment of membrane microdomain proteins to lipid droplets purified from the liver.

PMID 28800633


Lipid droplets (LDs) are cellular stores of neutral fat that facilitate lipid and protein trafficking in response to metabolic cues. Unlike other vesicles, the phospholipid membrane on the LD is a monolayer. Interestingly, this monolayer membrane has free cholesterol, and may therefore contain lipid microdomains that serve as a platform for assembling proteins involved in signal transduction, cell polarity, pathogen entry etc. In support of this, cell culture studies have detected microdomain-associated "raftophilic" proteins on LDs. However, the physiological significance of this observation has been unclear. Here we show that two proteins (Flotillin-1 and SNAP23) that bind to membrane microdomains associate differently with LDs purified from rat liver depending on the feeding/fasting state of the animal. Flotillin-1 increases on LDs in the fed state, possibly because LDs interact with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), facilitating supply of flotillin-1 from ER to LDs. Interestingly, this increase in flotillin-1 is correlated with an increase in free cholesterol on the LDs in fed state. In opposite behaviour to flotillin-1, SNAP23 increases on LDs in the fasted state and this appears to mediate LD-mitochondria interactions. Such LD-mitochondria interactions may provide fatty acids to mitochondria for promoting beta-oxidation in hepatocytes in response to fasting. Our work brings out physiologically relevant aspects of lipid droplet biology that are different from, and may not be entirely possible to replicate and study in cell culture.