Lipid droplets hold bacteria-fighting powers
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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.
- Science 370, eaay8085 (2020). doi: 10.1126/science.aay8085