All life requires metabolic energy but energy supplies and demands change over time. For this reason, organisms have developed ways to store energy, predominantly as fat. Neutral lipids are packaged into lipid droplets, small organelles found in most eukaryotic cells and in some prokaryotes. Lipid droplets play a critical role in an organism’s physiology; too many lipid droplets can result in obesity and too few in metabolic disease. In their first video, Drs. Farese and Walther introduce us to lipid droplets and explain their importance in cellular biology.
In Part 2, Walther and Farese explain in more depth how lipid droplets form in cells in an organized manner. Triglycerides and other neutral lipids are made in the ER membrane. They accumulate in localized regions of the membrane that grow towards the cytosol and eventually bud off into lipid droplets. Farese and Walther describe experiments from their lab and others that have identified a protein complex in the ER membrane called LDAF1/Seipin that regulates where triglycerides localize and grow into mature lipid droplets.
In their final talk, Walther and Farese explain how proteins are targeted specifically to the surface of lipid droplets. This has functional consequences since proteins at the surface of lipid droplets govern lipid droplet growth and hydrolysis, and some of these proteins are associated with diseases. Farese and Walther end their talk by describing a number of diseases or physiological conditions that are now recognized as resulting from mutations in genes encoding proteins involved in lipid droplet formation.
Since 2014, Drs. Robert Farese and Tobias Walther have run a joint research lab in the TH Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) and Harvard Medical School at Harvard University. Their lab studies the mechanisms and physiology of lipid synthesis and storage in lipid droplets; organelles that are vital for storing energy and membrane building… Continue Reading
Since 2014, Drs. Tobias Walther and Robert Farese have run a joint research lab in the T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) and Harvard Medical School at Harvard University. Their lab studies the mechanisms and physiology of lipid synthesis and storage in lipid droplets; organelles that are vital for storing energy and membrane building… Continue Reading