Mammalian lipid droplets are innate immune hubs integrating cell metabolism and host defense

Journal: Science

Published: 2020-10-16

DOI: 10.1126/science.aay8085

Affiliations: 17

Authors: 27

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Research Highlight

Lipid droplets hold bacteria-fighting powers

© KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

© KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

Small blobs of fat found inside cells provide a first line of protection against invading pathogens.

Far from being inert depots for excess fats, lipid droplets seem to respond to danger cues by arming themselves for molecular battle against bacteria, researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have found.

The researchers injected mice with a bacterial molecule to simulate an infection. In response, cells in the liver stopped metabolizing fats contained within their lipid droplets and instead rapidly padded the oily globules with innate immune factors.

Once readied for antibacterial action, the lipid droplets then physically engaged with bacteria inside infected immune cells, imaging experiments showed.

The defensive functions of lipid droplets could now be exploited for therapeutic purposes in the fight against drug-resistant superbugs.

Supported content

  1. Science 370, eaay8085 (2020). doi: 10.1126/science.aay8085
Institutions Share
August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), Spain 0.31
The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia 0.22
Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), Spain 0.14
Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), Brazil 0.11
University of Barcelona (UB), Spain 0.07
Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre (AID), Australia 0.04
University of California, Irvine (UCI), United States of America (USA) 0.04
Institute of Health Carlos III (ISCIII), Spain 0.03
Biomedical Research Networking Centers (CIBER), Spain 0.02
Institute of Biomedical Research Barcelona (IIBB), CSIC, Spain 0.02
Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), Spain 0.01

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