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1.  Cloning and functional characterization of a novel mitochondrialN-ethylmaleimide-sensitive glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT2) 
Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) catalyzes the initial and rate-limiting step in glycerolipid synthesis. Several mammalian GPAT activities have been recognized, including N-ethylmaleimide (NEM)-sensitive isoforms in microsomes and mitochondria and an NEM-resistant form in mitochondrial outer membrane (GPAT1). We have now cloned a second mitochondrial isoform, GPAT2 from mouse testis. The open reading frame encodes a protein of 798 amino acids with a calculated mass of 88.8 kDa and 27% amino acid identity to GPAT1. Testis mRNA expression was 50-fold higher than in liver or brown adipose tissue, but the specific activity of NEM-sensitive GPAT in testis mitochondria was similar to that in liver. When Cos-7 cells were transiently transfected with GPAT2, NEM-sensitive GPAT activity increased 30%. Confocal microscopy confirmed a mitochondrial location. Incubation of GPAT2-transfected Cos-7 cells with trace (3 μM; 0.25μCi) [1-14C]oleate for 6 h increased incorporation of [14C]oleate into TAG 84%. In contrast, incorporation into phospholipid species was lower than in control cells. Although a polyclonal antibody raised against full-length GPAT1 detected an ∼89 kDa band in liver and testis from GPAT1 null mice and both 89 and 80 kDa bands in BAT from the knockout animals, the GPAT2 protein expressed in Cos-7 cells was only 80 kDa. In vitro translation showed a single product of 89 kDa. Unlike GPAT1, GPAT2 mRNA abundance in liver was not altered by fasting or refeeding. GPAT2 is likely to have a specialized function in testis.
PMCID: PMC2133398  PMID: 17689486
2.  Glycerol-3-Phosphate Acyltransferase-2 Is Expressed in Spermatic Germ Cells and Incorporates Arachidonic Acid into Triacylglycerols 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42986.
De novo glycerolipid synthesis begins with the acylation of glycerol-3 phosphate catalyzed by glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT). In mammals, at least four GPAT isoforms have been described, differing in their cell and tissue locations and sensitivity to sulfhydryl reagents. In this work we show that mitochondrial GPAT2 overexpression in CHO-K1 cells increased TAG content and both GPAT and AGPAT activities 2-fold with arachidonoyl-CoA as a substrate, indicating specificity for this fatty acid.
Methods and Results
Incubation of GPAT2-transfected CHO-K1 cells with [1-14C]arachidonate for 3 h increased incorporation of [14C]arachidonate into TAG by 40%. Consistently, arachidonic acid was present in the TAG fraction of cells that overexpressed GPAT2, but not in control cells, corroborating GPAT2's role in synthesizing TAG that is rich in arachidonic acid. In rat and mouse testis, Gpat2 mRNA was expressed only in primary spermatocytes; the protein was also detected in late stages of spermatogenesis. During rat sexual maturation, both the testicular TAG content and the arachidonic acid content in the TAG fraction peaked at 30 d, matching the highest expression of Gpat2 mRNA and protein.
These results strongly suggest that GPAT2 expression is linked to arachidonoyl-CoA incorporation into TAG in spermatogenic germ cells.
PMCID: PMC3414494  PMID: 22905194
3.  Molecular Mechanisms of Hepatic Steatosis and Insulin Resistance in the AGPAT2 Deficient Mouse Model of Congenital Generalized Lipodystrophy 
Cell metabolism  2009;9(2):165-176.
Mutations in 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate-O-acyltransferase 2 (AGPAT2) cause congenital generalized lipodystrophy. To understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the metabolic complications associated with AGPAT2 deficiency, Agpat2 null mice were generated. Agpat2−/− mice develop severe lipodystrophy affecting both white and brown adipose tissue, severe insulin resistance, diabetes, and hepatic steatosis. The expression of lipogenic genes and rates of de novo fatty acid biosynthesis were increased ~4-fold in Agpat2−/− mouse livers. The mRNA and protein levels of monoacylglycerol acyltransferase isoform 1 were markedly increased in the livers of Agpat2−/− mice suggesting that the alternative monoacylglycerol pathway for triglyceride biosynthesis is activated in the absence of AGPAT2. Feeding a fat-free diet reduced liver triglycerides by ~50% in Agpat2−/− mice. These observations suggest that both dietary fat and hepatic triglyceride biosynthesis via a novel monoacylglycerol pathway may contribute to hepatic steatosis in Agpat2−/− mice.
PMCID: PMC2673980  PMID: 19187773
AGPAT; LPAAT; MGAT; phosphatidic acid phosphatases; acyltransferase; phospholipids; lipodystrophy; hepatic steatosis
4.  Studies of association of AGPAT6 variants with type 2 diabetes and related metabolic phenotypes in 12,068 Danes 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:113.
Type 2 diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance are characterized by hypertriglyceridemia and ectopic accumulation of lipids in liver and skeletal muscle. AGPAT6 encodes a novel glycerol-3 phosphate acyltransferase, GPAT4, which catalyzes the first step in the de novo triglyceride synthesis. AGPAT6-deficient mice show lower weight and resistance to diet- and genetically induced obesity. Here, we examined whether common or low-frequency variants in AGPAT6 associate with type 2 diabetes or related metabolic traits in a Danish population.
Eleven variants selected by a candidate gene approach capturing the common and low-frequency variation of AGPAT6 were genotyped in 12,068 Danes from four study populations of middle-aged individuals. The case–control study involved 4,638 type 2 diabetic and 5,934 glucose-tolerant individuals, while studies of quantitative metabolic traits were performed in 5,645 non-diabetic participants of the Inter99 Study.
None of the eleven AGPAT6 variants were robustly associated with type 2 diabetes in the Danish case–control study. Moreover, none of the AGPAT6 variants showed association with measures of obesity (waist circumference and BMI), serum lipid concentrations, fasting or 2-h post-glucose load levels of plasma glucose and serum insulin, or estimated indices of insulin secretion or insulin sensitivity.
Common and low-frequency variants in AGPAT6 do not significantly associate with type 2 diabetes susceptibility, or influence related phenotypic traits such as obesity, dyslipidemia or indices of insulin sensitivity or insulin secretion in the population studied.
PMCID: PMC4231429  PMID: 24156295
Type 2 diabetes; Genetics; Insulin resistance; Human; Lipid droplets; AGPAT6; GPAT4
5.  Glycerophosphate/Acylglycerophosphate Acyltransferases 
Biology  2014;3(4):801-830.
Acyl-CoA:glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) and acyl-CoA: 1-acyl-glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (AGPAT) are involved in the de novo synthesis of triacylglycerol (TAG) and glycerophospholipids. Many enzymes belonging to the GPAT/AGPAT family have recently been identified and their physiological or pathophysiological roles have been proposed. The roles of GPAT/AGPAT in the synthesis of TAG and obesity-related diseases were revealed through the identification of causative genes of these diseases or analyses of genetically manipulated animals. Recent studies have suggested that some isoforms of GPAT/AGPAT family enzymes are involved in the fatty acid remodeling of phospholipids. The enzymology of GPAT/AGPAT and their physiological/pathological roles in the metabolism of glycerolipids have been described and discussed in this review.
PMCID: PMC4280512  PMID: 25415055
acyltransferase; acyl-CoA; triacylglycerol; phospholipid; GPAT; AGPAT
6.  Agpat6 deficiency causes subdermal lipodystrophy and resistance to obesityS 
Journal of lipid research  2006;47(4):745-754.
Triglyceride synthesis in most mammalian tissues involves the sequential addition of fatty acids to a glycerol backbone, with unique enzymes required to catalyze each acylation step. Acylation at the sn-2 position requires 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate O-acyltransferase (AGPAT) activity. To date, seven Agpat genes have been identified based on activity and/or sequence similarity, but their physiological functions have not been well established. We have generated a mouse model deficient in AGPAT6, which is normally expressed at high levels in brown adipose tissue (BAT), white adipose tissue (WAT), and liver. Agpat6-deficient mice exhibit a 25% reduction in body weight and resistance to both diet-induced and genetically induced obesity. The reduced body weight is associated with increased energy expenditure, reduced triglyceride accumulation in BAT and WAT, reduced white adipocyte size, and lack of adipose tissue in the subdermal region. In addition, the fatty acid composition of triacylglycerol, diacylglycerol, and phospholipid is altered, with proportionally greater polyunsaturated fatty acids at the expense of monounsaturated fatty acids. Thus, Agpat6 plays a unique role in determining triglyceride content and composition in adipose tissue and liver that cannot be compensated by other members of the Agpat family.
PMCID: PMC2901549  PMID: 16436371
acyltransferase; gene-trap; adipose tissue; energy expenditure; 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate O-acyltransferase
7.  A role for 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate-O-acyltransferase-1 in myoblast differentiation 
AGPAT isoforms catalyze the acylation of lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) to form phosphatidic acid (PA). AGPAT2 mutations are associated with defective adipogenesis. Muscle and adipose tissue share common precursor cells. We investigated the role of AGPAT isoforms in skeletal muscle development. We demonstrate that small interference RNA-mediated knockdown of AGPAT1 expression prevents the induction of myogenin, a key transcriptional activator of the myogenic program, and inhibits the expression of myosin heavy chain. This effect is rescued by transfection with AGPAT1 but not AGPAT2. Knockdown of AGPAT2 has no effect. The regulation of myogenesis by AGPAT1 is associated with alterations on actin cytoskeleton. The role of AGPAT1 on actin cytoskeleton is further supported by colocalization of AGPAT1 to areas of active actin polymerization. AGPAT1 overexpression was not associated with an increase in PA levels. Our observations strongly implicate AGPAT1 in the development of skeletal muscle, specifically to terminal differentiation. These findings are linked to the regulation of actin cytoskeleton.
PMCID: PMC3449212  PMID: 20561744
Cytoskeleton; Phosphatidic acid; AGPAT2; C2C12; Skeletal muscle; Actin
8.  Agpat6—a Novel Lipid Biosynthetic Gene Required for Triacylglycerol Production in Mammary Epithelium 
Journal of lipid research  2006;47(4):734-744.
In analyzing the sequence tags for mutant mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell lines in BayGenomics (a mouse gene-trapping resource), we identified a novel gene, Agpat6, with sequence similarities to previously characterized glycerolipid acyltransferases. Agpat6’s closest family member is another novel gene that we have provisionally designated Agpat8. Both Agpat6 and Agpat8 are conserved from plants, nematodes, and flies to mammals. AGPAT6, which is predicted to contain multiple membrane-spanning helices, is found exclusively within the endoplasmic reticulum in mammalian cells. To gain insights into the in vivo importance of Agpat6, we used the Agpat6 ES cell line from BayGenomics to create Agpat6-deficient (Agpat6−/−) mice. Agpat6−/− mice lacked full-length Agpat6 transcripts, as judged by northern blots. One of the most striking phenotypes of Agpat6−/− mice was a defect in lactation. Pups nursed by Agpat6−/− mothers die perinatally. Normally, Agpat6 is expressed at high levels in the mammary epithelium of breast tissue, but not in the surrounding adipose tissue. Histological studies revealed that the aveoli and ducts of Agpat6−/− lactating mammary glands were underdeveloped, and there was a dramatic decrease in size and number of lipid droplets within mammary epithelial cells and ducts. Also, the milk from Agpat6−/− mice was markedly depleted in diacylglycerols and triacylglycerols. Thus, we identified a novel glycerolipid acyltransferase of the endoplasmic reticulum, AGPAT6, which is crucial for the production of milk fat by the mammary gland.
PMCID: PMC3196597  PMID: 16449762
LPAAT; acyltransferase; transacylase; milk fat
9.  Macrobrachium borellii Hepatopancreas Contains a Mitochondrial Glycerol-3-Phosphate Acyltransferase Which Initiates Triacylglycerol Biosynthesis 
Lipids  2009;44(4):337.
Mammals express four isoforms of glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT). The mitochondrial isoform GPAT1 may have been the acyltransferase that appeared first in evolution. The hepatopancreas of the crustacean Macrobrachium borellii has a high capacity for triacylglycerol (TAG) biosynthesis and storage. In order to understand the mechanism of glycerolipid biosynthesis in M. borellii, we investigated its hepatopancreas GPAT activity. In hepatopancreas mitochondria, we identified a GPAT activity with characteristics similar to those of mammalian GPAT1. The activity was resistant to inactivation by SH-reactive N-ethylmaleimide, it was activated by polymyxin-B, and its preferred substrate was palmitoyl-CoA. The reaction products were similar to those of mammalian GPAT1. A 70-kDa protein band immunoreacted with an anti-rat liver GPAT1 antibody. Surprisingly, we did not detect high GPAT specific activity in hepato-pancreas microsomes. GPAT activity in microsomes was consistent with mitochondrial contamination, and its properties were similar to those of the mitochondrial activity. In microsomes, TAG synthesis was not dependent on the presence of glycerol-3 phosphate as a substrate, and the addition of monoacylglycerol as a substrate increased TAG synthesis 2-fold. We conclude that in M. borellii the de novo triacylglycerol biosynthetic pathway can be completed in the mitochondria. In contrast, TAG synthesis in the ER may function via the monoacylglycerol pathway.
PMCID: PMC2823129  PMID: 19130111
Triacylglycerol; Crustacean; Glycerolipid synthesis
10.  Mitochondrial Glycerol-3-Phosphate Acyltransferase-Deficient Mice Have Reduced Weight and Liver Triacylglycerol Content and Altered Glycerolipid Fatty Acid Composition 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2002;22(23):8204-8214.
Microsomal and mitochondrial isoforms of glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT; E.C. catalyze the committed step in glycerolipid synthesis. The mitochondrial isoform, mtGPAT, was believed to control the positioning of saturated fatty acids at the sn-1 position of phospholipids, and nutritional, hormonal, and overexpression studies suggested that mtGPAT activity is important for the synthesis of triacylglycerol. To determine whether these purported functions were true, we constructed mice deficient in mtGPAT. mtGPAT−/− mice weighed less than controls and had reduced gonadal fat pad weights and lower hepatic triacylglycerol content, plasma triacylglycerol, and very low density lipoprotein triacylglycerol secretion. As predicted, in mtGPAT−/− liver, the palmitate content was lower in triacylglycerol, phosphatidylcholine, and phosphatidylethanolamine. Positional analysis revealed that mtGPAT−/− liver phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylcholine had about 21% less palmitate in the sn-1 position and 36 and 40%, respectively, more arachidonate in the sn-2 position. These data confirm the important role of mtGPAT in the synthesis of triacylglycerol, in the fatty acid content of triacylglycerol and cholesterol esters, and in the positioning of specific fatty acids, particularly palmitate and arachidonate, in phospholipids. The increase in arachidonate may be functionally significant in terms of eicosanoid production.
PMCID: PMC134068  PMID: 12417724
11.  Rhodobacter capsulatus OlsA Is a Bifunctional Enyzme Active in both Ornithine Lipid and Phosphatidic Acid Biosynthesis▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(23):8564-8574.
The Rhodobacter capsulatus genome contains three genes (olsA [plsC138], plsC316, and plsC3498) that are annotated as lysophosphatidic acid (1-acyl-sn-glycerol-3-phosphate) acyltransferase (AGPAT). Of these genes, olsA was previously shown to be an O-acyltransferase in the second step of ornithine lipid biosynthesis, which is important for optimal steady-state levels of c-type cytochromes (S. Aygun-Sunar, S. Mandaci, H.-G. Koch, I. V. J. Murray, H. Goldfine, and F. Daldal. Mol. Microbiol. 61:418-435, 2006). The roles of the remaining plsC316 and plsC3498 genes remained unknown. In this work, these genes were cloned, and chromosomal insertion-deletion mutations inactivating them were obtained to define their function. Characterization of these mutants indicated that, unlike the Escherichia coli plsC, neither plsC316 nor plsC3498 was essential in R. capsulatus. In contrast, no plsC316 olsA double mutant could be isolated, indicating that an intact copy of either olsA or plsC316 was required for R. capsulatus growth under the conditions tested. Compared to OlsA null mutants, PlsC316 null mutants contained ornithine lipid and had no c-type cytochrome-related phenotype. However, they exhibited slight growth impairment and highly altered total fatty acid and phospholipid profiles. Heterologous expression in an E. coli plsC(Ts) mutant of either R. capsulatus plsC316 or olsA gene products supported growth at a nonpermissive temperature, exhibited AGPAT activity in vitro, and restored phosphatidic acid biosynthesis. The more vigorous AGPAT activity displayed by PlsC316 suggested that plsC316 encodes the main AGPAT required for glycerophospholipid synthesis in R. capsulatus, while olsA acts as an alternative AGPAT that is specific for ornithine lipid synthesis. This study therefore revealed for the first time that some OlsA enzymes, like the enzyme of R. capsulatus, are bifunctional and involved in both membrane ornithine lipid and glycerophospholipid biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC2168953  PMID: 17921310
12.  Mitochondrial glycerol-3-P acyltransferase 1 is most active in outer mitochondrial membrane but not in mitochondrial associated vesicles (MAV) 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2007;1771(7):830-838.
Glycerol 3-phosphate acyltransferase-1 (GPAT1), catalyzes the committed step in phospholipid and triacylglycerol synthesis. Because both GPAT1 and carnitine-palmitoyltransferase 1 are located on the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) it has been suggested that their reciprocal regulation controls acyl-CoA metabolism at the OMM. To determine whether GPAT1, like carnitine-palmitoyltransferase 1, is enriched in both mitochondrial contact sites and OMM, and to correlate protein location and enzymatic function, we used Percoll and sucrose gradient fractionation of rat liver to obtain submitochondrial fractions. Most GPAT1 protein was present in a vesicular membrane fraction associated with mitochondria (MAV) but GPAT specific activity in this fraction was low. In contrast, highest GPAT1 specific activity was present in purified mitochondria. Contact sites from crude mitochondria, which contained markers for both endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria, also showed high expression of GPAT1 protein but low specific activity, whereas contact sites isolated from purified mitochondria lacked ER markers and expressed highly active GPAT1. To determine how GPAT1 is targeted to mitochondria, recombinant protein was synthesized in vitro and its incorporation into crude and purified mitochondria was assayed. GPAT1 was rapidly incorporated into mitochondria, but not into microsomes. Incorporation was ATP-driven, and lack of GPAT1 removal by alkali and a chaotropic agent showed that GPAT1 had become an integral membrane protein after incorporation. These results demonstrate that two pools of GPAT1 are present in rat liver mitochondria: an active one, located in OMM and a less active one, located in membranes (ER-contact sites and mitochondrial associated vesicles) associated with both mitochondria and ER.
PMCID: PMC2230616  PMID: 17493869
Triacylglycerol synthesis; Protein targeting; Mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum interaction
13.  Lysophosphatidic Acid Activates Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor-γ in CHO Cells That Over-Express Glycerol 3-Phosphate Acyltransferase-1 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18932.
Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is an agonist for peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ (PPARγ). Although glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase-1 (GPAT1) esterifies glycerol-3-phosphate to form LPA, an intermediate in the de novo synthesis of glycerolipids, it has been assumed that LPA synthesized by this route does not have a signaling role. The availability of Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells that stably overexpress GPAT1, allowed us to analyze PPARγ activation in the presence of LPA produced as an intracellular intermediate. LPA levels in CHO-GPAT1 cells were 6-fold higher than in wild-type CHO cells, and the mRNA abundance of CD36, a PPARγ target, was 2-fold higher. Transactivation assays showed that PPARγ activity was higher in the cells that overexpressed GPAT1. PPARγ activity was enhanced further in CHO-GPAT1 cells treated with the PPARγ ligand troglitazone. Extracellular LPA, phosphatidic acid (PA) or a membrane-permeable diacylglycerol had no effect, showing that PPARγ had been activated by LPA generated intracellularly. Transient transfection of a vector expressing 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase-2, which converts endogenous LPA to PA, markedly reduced PPARγ activity, as did over-expressing diacylglycerol kinase, which converts DAG to PA, indicating that PA could be a potent inhibitor of PPARγ. These data suggest that LPA synthesized via the glycerol-3-phosphate pathway can activate PPARγ and that intermediates of de novo glycerolipid synthesis regulate gene expression.
PMCID: PMC3080373  PMID: 21533082
14.  Mice deficient in mitochondrial glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase-1 have diminished myocardial triacylglycerol accumulation during lipogenic diet and altered phospholipid fatty acid composition 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2008;1781(6-7):352-358.
Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase-1 (GPAT1), which is located on the outer mitochondrial membrane comprises up to 30% of total GPAT activity in the heart. It is one of at least four mammalian GPAT isoforms known to catalyze the initial, committed, and rate limiting step of glycerolipid synthesis. Because excess triacylglycerol (TAG) accumulates in cardiomyocytes in obesity and type 2 diabetes, we determined whether lack of GPAT1 would alter the synthesis of heart TAG and phospholipids after a 2-week high sucrose diet or a 3-month high fat diet. Even in the absence of hypertriglyceridemia, TAG increased 2-fold with both diets in hearts from wildtype mice. In contrast, hearts from Gpat1−/− mice contained 20–80% less TAG than the wildtype controls. In addition, hearts from Gpat1−/− mice fed the high-sucrose diet incorporate 60% less [14C]palmitate into heart TAG as compared to wildtype mice. Because GPAT1 prefers 16:0-CoA to other long chain acyl-CoA substrates, we determined the fatty acid composition of heart phospholipids. Compared to wildtype littermate controls, hearts from Gpat1−/− mice contained a lower amount of 16:0 in phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylserine/phosphatidylinositol and significantly more C20:4n6. Phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine from Gpat1−/− hearts also contained higher amounts of 18:0 and 18:1. Although at least three other GPAT isoforms are expressed in the heart, our data suggest that GPAT1 contributes significantly to cardiomyocyte TAG synthesis during lipogenic or high fat diets and influences the incorporation of 20:4n6 into heart phospholipids.
PMCID: PMC3285559  PMID: 18522808
obesity; type 2 diabetes; lipotoxicity; diabetic cardiomyopathy; arachidonic acid
15.  The expression and regulation of enzymes mediating the biosynthesis of triglycerides and phospholipids in keratinocytes/epidermis 
Dermato-endocrinology  2011;3(2):70-76.
Triglycerides and phospholipids play an important role in epidermal permability barrier formation and function. They are synthesized de novo in the epidermis via the glycerol-3-phosphate pathway, catalyzed sequentially by a group of enzymes that have multiple isoforms including glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT), 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (AGPAT), Lipin and diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT). Here we review the current knowledge of GPAT, AGPAT, Lipin and DGAT enzymes in keratinocytes/epidermis focusing on the expression levels of the various isoforms and their localization in mouse epidermis. Additionally, the factors regulating their gene expression, including calcium induced differentiation, PPAR and LXR activators, and the effect of acute permeability barrier disruption will be discussed.
PMCID: PMC3117005  PMID: 21695015
glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase; 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase; lipin; diacylglycerol acyltransferase; human keratinocytes; epidermis
16.  Glycerol-3-Phosphate Acyltransferase 1 Deficiency in ob/ob Mice Diminishes Hepatic Steatosis but Does Not Protect Against Insulin Resistance or Obesity 
Diabetes  2010;59(6):1321-1329.
Hepatic steatosis is strongly associated with insulin resistance, but a causal role has not been established. In ob/ob mice, sterol regulatory element binding protein 1 (SREBP1) mediates the induction of steatosis by upregulating target genes, including glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase-1 (Gpat1), which catalyzes the first and committed step in the pathway of glycerolipid synthesis. We asked whether ob/ob mice lacking Gpat1 would have reduced hepatic steatosis and improved insulin sensitivity.
Hepatic lipids, insulin sensitivity, and hepatic insulin signaling were compared in lean (Lep+/?), lean-Gpat1−/−, ob/ob (Lepob/ob), and ob/ob-Gpat1−/− mice.
Compared with ob/ob mice, the lack of Gpat1 in ob/ob mice reduced hepatic triacylglycerol (TAG) and diacylglycerol (DAG) content 59 and 74%, respectively, but increased acyl-CoA levels. Despite the reduction in hepatic lipids, fasting glucose and insulin concentrations did not improve, and insulin tolerance remained impaired. In both ob/ob and ob/ob-Gpat1−/− mice, insulin resistance was accompanied by elevated hepatic protein kinase C-ε activation and blunted insulin-stimulated Akt activation.
These results suggest that decreasing hepatic steatosis alone does not improve insulin resistance, and that factors other than increased hepatic DAG and TAG contribute to hepatic insulin resistance in this genetically obese model. They also show that the SREBP1-mediated induction of hepatic steatosis in ob/ob mice requires Gpat1.
PMCID: PMC2874692  PMID: 20200319
17.  Identification and Characterisation of a Novel Pathogenic Mutation in the Human Lipodystrophy Gene AGPAT2 
JIMD Reports  2012;9:73-80.
Loss-of-function mutations in AGPAT2, encoding 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate-O-acyltransferase 2 (AGPAT2), produce congenital generalised lipodystrophy (CGL). We screened the AGPAT2 gene in two siblings who presented with pseudoacromegaly, diabetes and severe dyslipidaemia and identified a novel mutation in AGPAT2 causing a single amino acid substitution, p.Cys48Arg. We subsequently investigated the molecular pathogenic mechanism linking both this mutation and the previously reported p.Leu228Pro mutation to clinical disease. Wild-type and mutant AGPAT2 were expressed in control and AGPAT2-deficient preadipocyte cell lines. mRNA and protein expression was determined, and the ability of each AGPAT2 species to rescue adipocyte differentiation in AGPAT2-deficient cells was assessed. Protein levels of both p.Cys48Arg and p.Leu228Pro AGPAT2 were significantly reduced compared with that of wild-type AGPAT2 despite equivalent mRNA levels. Stable expression of wild-type AGPAT2 partially rescued adipogenesis in AGPAT2 deficient preadipocytes, whereas stable expression of p.Cys48Arg or p.Leu228Pro AGPAT2 did not. In conclusion, unusually severe dyslipidaemia and pseudoacromegaloid overgrowth in patients with diabetes should alert physicians to the possibility of lipodystrophy. Both the previously unreported pathogenic p.Cys48Arg mutation in AGPAT2, and the known p.Leu228Pro mutation result in decreased AGPAT2 protein expression in developing adipocytes. It is most likely that the CGL seen in homozygous carriers of these mutations is largely accounted for by loss of protein expression.
PMCID: PMC3565662  PMID: 23430550
18.  Membrane topology of human AGPAT3 (LPAAT3) 
Integral membrane lysophospholipid acyltransferases (AT) are involved in many reactions that produce phospholipids and triglycerides. Enzymes that utilize lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) as an acceptor substrate have been termed LPAATs, and several are members of the 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate O-acyltransferase (AGPAT) gene family. Amino acid sequence comparisons with other acyltransferases reveal that AGPATs contain four conserved motifs (I–IV), whose invariant residues appear to be important for catalysis and/or substrate recognition. Although the enzymatic activities of many AGPATs are known, for many members their structural organization within membranes and their exact biological functions are unclear. Recently, a new function for AGPATs was discovered when it was determined that human AGPAT3/LPAAT3 is involved in the structure and function of the Golgi complex. Here we have determined the topological orientation of human AGPAT3/LPAAT3. AGPAT3/LPAAT3 possesses two transmembrane domains, one of which separates motifs I and II, which are thought to form a functional unit that is critical for enzymatic activity. This is a surprising result but similar to a recent study on the topology of human LPAAT 1. The data is consistent with a structural arrangement in which motif I is located in the cytoplasm and motif II is in the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi lumen, suggesting a different model for AGPAT3/LPAAT3’s enzymatic mechanism.
PMCID: PMC2902680  PMID: 20537980
Golgi complex; 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate O-acyltransferase; AGPAT3; lysophosphatidic acid acyltransferase; LPAAT3; membrane topology
19.  Alterations in Lipid Signaling Underlie Lipodystrophy Secondary to AGPAT2 Mutations 
Diabetes  2012;61(11):2922-2931.
Congenital generalized lipodystrophy (CGL), secondary to AGPAT2 mutation is characterized by the absence of adipocytes and development of severe insulin resistance. In the current study, we investigated the adipogenic defect associated with AGPAT2 mutations. Adipogenesis was studied in muscle-derived multipotent cells (MDMCs) isolated from vastus lateralis biopsies obtained from controls and subjects harboring AGPAT2 mutations and in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes after knockdown or overexpression of AGPAT2. We demonstrate an adipogenic defect using MDMCs from control and CGL human subjects with mutated AGPAT2. This defect was rescued in CGL MDMCs with a retrovirus expressing AGPAT2. Both CGL-derived MDMCs and 3T3-L1 cells with knockdown of AGPAT2 demonstrated an increase in cell death after induction of adipogenesis. Lack of AGPAT2 activity reduces Akt activation, and overexpression of constitutively active Akt can partially restore lipogenesis. AGPAT2 modulated the levels of phosphatidic acid, lysophosphatidic acid, phosphatidylinositol species, as well as the peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ (PPARγ) inhibitor cyclic phosphatidic acid. The PPARγ agonist pioglitazone partially rescued the adipogenic defect in CGL cells. We conclude that AGPAT2 regulates adipogenesis through the modulation of the lipome, altering normal activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and PPARγ pathways in the early stages of adipogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3478532  PMID: 22872237
20.  Hepatic Overexpression of Glycerol-sn-3-phosphate Acyltransferase 1 in Rats Causes Insulin Resistance* 
Fatty liver is commonly associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, but it is unclear whether triacylglycerol accumulation or an excess flux of lipid intermediates in the pathway of triacyglycerol synthesis are sufficient to cause insulin resistance in the absence of genetic or diet-induced obesity. To determine whether increased glycerolipid flux can, by itself, cause hepatic insulin resistance, we used an adenoviral construct to overexpress glycerol-sn-3-phosphate acyltransferase-1 (Ad-GPAT1), the committed step in de novo triacylglycerol synthesis. After 5–7 days, food intake, body weight, and fat pad weight did not differ between Ad-GPAT1 and Ad-enhanced green fluorescent protein control rats, but the chow-fed Ad-GPAT1 rats developed fatty liver, hyperlipidemia, and insulin resistance. Liver was the predominant site of insulin resistance; Ad-GPAT1 rats had 2.5-fold higher hepatic glucose output than controls during a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. Hepatic diacylglycerol and lysophosphatidate were elevated in Ad-GPAT1 rats, suggesting a role for these lipid metabolites in the development of hepatic insulin resistance, and hepatic protein kinase Cε was activated, providing a potential mechanism for insulin resistance. Ad-GPAT1-treated rats had 50% lower hepatic NF-κB activity and no difference in expression of tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-β, consistent with hepatic insulin resistance in the absence of increased hepatic inflammation. Glycogen synthesis and uptake of 2-deoxyglucose were reduced in skeletal muscle, suggesting mild peripheral insulin resistance associated with a higher content of skeletal muscle triacylglycerol. These results indicate that increased flux through the pathway of hepatic de novo triacylglycerol synthesis can cause hepatic and systemic insulin resistance in the absence of obesity or a lipogenic diet.
PMCID: PMC2819346  PMID: 17389595
In the present study, the beneficial effects of proteasome inhibitor treatment in reducing ethanol-induced steatosis were investigated. A microarray analysis was performed on the liver of rats injected with PS-341 (Bortezomib, Velcade®), and the results showed that proteasome inhibitor treatment significantly reduced the mRNA expression of SREBP-1c, and the downstream lipogenic enzymes, such as fatty acid synthase (FAS) and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), which catalyzes the carboxylation of acetyl-CoA to malonyl-CoA, the rate-limiting step in fatty acid synthesis. ELOVL6, which is responsible for fatty acids long chain elongation, was also significantly down regulated by proteasome inhibitor treatment. Moreover, PS-341 administration significantly reduced the expression of acyl-glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (AGPAT), and diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT), enzyme involved in triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesis. Finally, PS-341 was found to down regulate the enzymes 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoenzymeA synthase (HMG-CoA synthase) that is responsible for cholesterol synthesis. Proteasome inhibitor was also found to play a role in intestinal lipid adsorption because apolipoproteins A (apoA-I, apoAII, apoA-IV and ApoCIII) were down regulated by proteasome inhibitor treatment, especially ApoA-II that is known to be a marker of alcohol consumption. Proteasome inhibitor treatment also decreased apobec-1 complementation factor (ACF) leading to lower level of editing and production of ApoB protein. Moreover apolipoprotein C-III, a major component of chylomicrons was significantly down regulated. However, lipoprotein lipase (Lpl) and High density lipoprotein binding protein (Hdlbp) mRNA levels were increased by proteasome inhibitor treatment. These results suggested that proteasome inhibitor treatment could be used to reduce the alcohol-enhanced lipogenesis and alcohol-induced liver steatosis. A morphologic analysis, performed on the liver of rats fed ethanol for one month and treated with PS-341, showed that proteasome inhibitor treatment significantly decreased ethanol-induced liver steatosis. SREBP-1c, FAS and ACC were increased by ethanol feeding alone, but were significantly decreased when proteasome inhibitor was administered to rats fed ethanol. Our results also show that both mRNA and protein levels of these lipogenic enzymes, up regulated by ethanol, were then down regulated when proteasome inhibitor was administered to rats fed ethanol. It was also confirmed that alcohol feeding caused an increase in AGPAT and DGAT, which was prevented by proteasome inhibitor treatment of the animal fed ethanol. Chronic alcohol feeding did not affect the gene expression of HMG-CoA synthase. However, PS341 administration significantly reduced the HMG-CoA synthase mRNA levels, confirming the results obtained with the microarray analysis. C/EBP transcription factors alpha (CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha) has been shown to positively regulate SREBP-1c mRNA expression, thus regulating lipogenesis. Proteasome inhibition caused a decrease in C/EBP alpha mRNA expression, indicating that C/EBP down regulation may be the mechanism by which proteasome inhibitor treatment reduced lipogenesis. In conclusion, our results indicate that proteasome activity is not only involved in down regulating fatty acid synthesis and triacylglycerol synthesis, but also cholesterol synthesis and intestinal lipid adsorption. Proteasome inhibitor, administrated at a non-toxic low dose, played a beneficial role in reducing lipogenesis caused by chronic ethanol feeding and these beneficial effects are obtained because of the specificity and reversibility of the proteasome inhibitor used.
PMCID: PMC4197193  PMID: 22445925
Fatty acid; Triacylglycerol and Cholesterol Synthesis; Proteasome inhibitor
22.  Aralia cordata Inhibits Triacylglycerol Biosynthesis in HepG2 Cells 
Journal of Medicinal Food  2013;16(12):1108-1114.
Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) catalyzes the first committed step in triacylglycerol (TAG) and phospholipid biosynthesis, and has been considered as one of the drug targets for treating hepatic steatosis, insulin resistance, and other metabolic disorders. The aim of this study was to investigate the GPAT inhibitors from natural products and to evaluate their effects. The methanol extract of Aralia cordata roots showed a strong inhibitory effect on the human GPAT1 activity. A further bioactivity-guided approach led to the isolation of ent-pimara-8(14),15-dien-19-oic acid, (PA), one of the major compounds of A. cordata, which suppressed the GPAT1 activity with IC50 value of 60.5 μM. PA markedly reduced de novo lysophosphatidic acid synthesis through inhibition of GPAT activity and therefore significantly decreased synthesis of TAG in the HepG2 cells. These results suggest that PA as well as A. cordata root extract could be beneficial in controlling lipid metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3868379  PMID: 24283275
Aralia cordata; ent-pimara-8(14),15-dien-19-oic acid; glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase; lysophophatidic acid; triacylglycerol
23.  Regulation of Triglyceride Metabolism II. Function of mitochondrial GPAT1 in the regulation of triacylglycerol biosynthesis and insulin action 
GPAT1, one of four known glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase isoforms, is located on the mitochondrial outer membrane, allowing reciprocal regulation with carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1. GPAT1 is upregulated transcriptionally by insulin and SREBP-1c and downregulated acutely by AMP-activated protein kinase, consistent with a role in triacylglycerol synthesis. Knockout and overexpression studies suggest that GPAT1 is critical for the development of hepatic steatosis and that steatosis initiated by overexpression of GPAT1 causes hepatic, and perhaps also peripheral, insulin resistance. Future questions include the function of GPAT1 in relation to the other GPAT isoforms and whether the lipid intermediates synthesized by GPAT and downstream enzymes in the pathway of glycerolipid biosynthesis participate in intracellular signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC2819211  PMID: 17158253
insulin resistance; diacylglycerol; lysophosphatidate; sterol regulatory element binding protein; hepatic steatosis
24.  Glycerol-3-Phosphate Acyltransferases Gat1p and Gat2p Are Microsomal Phosphoproteins with Differential Contributions to Polarized Cell Growth▿ †  
Eukaryotic Cell  2009;8(8):1184-1196.
Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) catalyzes the initial step in the synthesis of all glycerolipids. It is the committed and rate-limiting step and is redundant in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, mammals, and plants. GPAT controls the formation of lipid intermediates that serve not only as precursors of more-complex lipids but also as intracellular signaling molecules. Saccharomyces cerevisiae possesses two GPATs, encoded by the GAT1 and GAT2 genes. Metabolic analysis of yeast lacking either GAT1 or GAT2 indicated partitioning of the two main branches of phospholipid synthesis at the initial and rate-limiting GPAT step. We are particularly interested in identifying molecular determinants mediating lipid metabolic pathway partitioning; therefore, as a starting point, we have performed a detailed study of Gat1p and Gat2p cellular localization. We have compared Gat1p and Gat2p localization by fluorescence microscopy and subcellular fractionation using equilibrium density gradients. Our results indicate Gat1p and Gat2p overlap mostly in their localization and are in fact microsomal GPATs, localized to both perinuclear and cortical endoplasmic reticula in actively proliferating cells. A more detailed analysis suggests a differential enrichment of Gat1p and Gat2p in distinct ER fractions. Furthermore, overexpression of these enzymes in the absence of endogenous GPATs induces proliferation of distinct ER arrays, differentially affecting cortical ER morphology and polarized cell growth. In addition, our studies also uncovered a dynamic posttranslational regulation of Gat1p and Gat2p and a compensation mechanism through phosphorylation that responds to a cellular GPAT imbalance.
PMCID: PMC2725570  PMID: 19525420
25.  Phylogenetic Analysis of Glycerol 3-Phosphate Acyltransferases in Opisthokonts Reveals Unexpected Ancestral Complexity and Novel Modern Biosynthetic Components 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110684.
Glycerolipid synthesis represents a central metabolic process of all forms of life. In the last decade multiple genes coding for enzymes responsible for the first step of the pathway, catalyzed by glycerol 3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT), have been described, and characterized primarily in model organisms like Saccharomyces cerevisiae and mice. Notoriously, the fungal enzymes share low sequence identity with their known animal counterparts, and the nature of their homology is unclear. Furthermore, two mitochondrial GPAT isoforms have been described in animal cells, while no such enzymes have been identified in Fungi. In order to determine if the yeast and mammalian GPATs are representative of the set of enzymes present in their respective groups, and to test the hypothesis that metazoan orthologues are indeed absent from the fungal clade, a comparative genomic and phylogenetic analysis was performed including organisms spanning the breadth of the Opisthokonta supergroup. Surprisingly, our study unveiled the presence of ‘fungal’ orthologs in the basal taxa of the holozoa and ‘animal’ orthologues in the basal holomycetes. This includes a novel clade of fungal homologues, with putative peroxisomal targeting signals, of the mitochondrial/peroxisomal acyltransferases in Metazoa, thus potentially representing an undescribed metabolic capacity in the Fungi. The overall distribution of GPAT homologues is suggestive of high relative complexity in the ancestors of the opisthokont clade, followed by loss and sculpting of the complement in the descendent lineages. Divergence from a general versatile metabolic model, present in ancestrally deduced GPAT complements, points to distinctive contributions of each GPAT isoform to lipid metabolism and homeostasis in contemporary organisms like humans and their fungal pathogens.
PMCID: PMC4207751  PMID: 25340523

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