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Concept: Fatty acid metabolism


Considerable mechanistic data indicate there may be a sixth basic taste: fat. However, evidence demonstrating that the sensation of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA, the proposed stimuli for “fat taste”) differs qualitatively from other tastes is lacking. Using perceptual mapping, we demonstrate that medium and long-chain NEFA have a taste sensation that is distinct from other basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, and bitter). Although some overlap was observed between these NEFA and umami taste, this overlap is likely due to unfamiliarity with umami sensations rather than true similarity. Shorter chain fatty acids stimulate a sensation similar to sour, but as chain length increases this sensation changes. Fat taste oral signaling, and the different signals caused by different alkyl chain lengths, may hold implications for food product development, clinical practice, and public health policy.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Fat, Food, Fatty acid metabolism, Difference, Taste, Tongue


The desire to consume high volumes of fat is thought to originate from an evolutionary pressure to hoard calories, and fat is among the few energy sources that we can store over a longer time period. From an ecological perspective, however, it would be beneficial to detect fat from a distance, before ingesting it. Previous results indicate that humans detect high concentrations of fatty acids by their odor. More important though, would be the ability to detect fat content in real food products. In a series of three sequential experiments, using study populations from different cultures, we demonstrated that individuals are able to reliably detect fat content of food via odors alone. Over all three experiments, results clearly demonstrated that humans were able to detect minute differences between milk samples with varying grades of fat, even when embedded within a milk odor. Moreover, we found no relation between this performance and either BMI or dairy consumption, thereby suggesting that this is not a learned ability or dependent on nutritional traits. We argue that our findings that humans can detect the fat content of food via odors may open up new and innovative future paths towards a general reduction in our fat intake, and future studies should focus on determining the components in milk responsible for this effect.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Eating, Fat, Fatty acid metabolism, Butter, Saturated fat, Carbohydrate


Glioma is the most common form of primary malignant brain tumor in adults, with approximately 4 cases per 100 000 people each year. Gliomas, like many tumors, are thought to primarily metabolize glucose for energy production; however, the reliance upon glycolysis has recently been called into question. In this study, we aimed to identify the metabolic fuel requirements of human glioma cells.

Concepts: Oncology, Metabolism, Nutrition, Adenosine triphosphate, Cellular respiration, Glioma, Brain tumor, Fatty acid metabolism


Cysteine S-nitrosylation is a posttranslational modification by which nitric oxide regulates protein function and signaling. Studies of individual proteins have elucidated specific functional roles for S-nitrosylation, but knowledge of the extent of endogenous S-nitrosylation, the sites that are nitrosylated, and the regulatory consequences of S-nitrosylation remains limited. We used mass spectrometry-based methodologies to identify 1011 S-nitrosocysteine residues in 647 proteins in various mouse tissues. We uncovered selective S-nitrosylation of enzymes participating in glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, tricarboxylic acid cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation, indicating that this posttranslational modification may regulate metabolism and mitochondrial bioenergetics. S-nitrosylation of the liver enzyme VLCAD [very long chain acyl-coenzyme A (CoA) dehydrogenase] at Cys(238), which was absent in mice lacking endothelial nitric oxide synthase, improved its catalytic efficiency. These data implicate protein S-nitrosylation in the regulation of β-oxidation of fatty acids in mitochondria.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Oxidative phosphorylation, Cellular respiration, Fatty acid metabolism, Citric acid cycle


BACKGROUND: Pseudomonas putida KT2440 is able to synthesize large amounts of medium-chain-length polyhydroxyalkanoates (mcl-PHAs). To reduce the substrate cost, which represents nearly 50% of the total PHA production cost, xylose, a hemicellulose derivate, was tested as the growth carbon source in an engineered P. putida KT2440 strain. RESULTS: The genes encoding xylose isomerase (XylA) and xylulokinase (XylB) from Escherichia coli W3110 were introduced into P. putida KT2440. The recombinant KT2440 exhibited a XylA activity of 1.47 U and a XylB activity of 0.97 U when grown on a defined medium supplemented with xylose. The cells reached a maximum specific growth rate of 0.24 h-1 and a final cell dry weight (CDW) of 2.5 g L-1 with a maximal yield of 0.5 g CDW g-1 xylose. Since no mcl-PHA was accumulated from xylose, mcl-PHA production can be controlled by the addition of fatty acids leading to tailor-made PHA compositions. Sequential feeding strategy was applied using xylose as the growth substrate and octanoic acid as the precursor for mcl-PHA production. In this way, up to 20% w w-1 of mcl-PHA was obtained. A yield of 0.37 g mcl-PHA per g octanoic acid was achieved under employed conditions. CONCLUSIONS: Sequential feeding of relatively cheap carbohydrates and expensive fatty acids is a practical way to achieve more cost-effective mcl-PHA production. This study is the first reported attempt to produce mcl-PHA by using xylose as the growth substrate. Further process optimizations to achieve higher cell density and higher productivity of mcl-PHA should be investigated. These scientific exercises will undoubtedly contribute to the economic feasibility of mcl-PHA production from renewable feedstock.

Concepts: Protein, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Escherichia coli, Fatty acid metabolism, Pseudomonas, Pseudomonas putida, Polyhydroxyalkanoates


Activation of lipid metabolism is an early event in carcinogenesis and a central hallmark of many tumors. Fatty acid synthase (FASN) is a key lipogenic enzyme catalyzing the terminal steps in the de novo biogenesis of fatty acids. In cancer cells, FASN may act as a metabolic oncogene given that it confers growth and survival advantages to these cells, whereas its inhibition effectively and selectively kills tumor cells. Hormones like estrogens and growth factors contribute to the transcriptional regulation of FASN expression also through the activation of downstream signaling and a crosstalk among diverse transduction pathways. In this study, we demonstrate for the first time that 17β-estradiol (E2) and the selective GPER ligand G-1 regulate FASN expression and activity through the GPER-mediated signaling which involved the EGFR/ERK/c-fos/AP1 transduction pathway, as ascertained by using specific pharmacological inhibitors, performing gene-silencing experiments and ChiP assays in breast SkBr3, colorectal LoVo, hepatocarcinoma HepG2 cancer cells and breast cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). In addition, the proliferative effects induced by E2 and G-1 in these cells involved FASN as the inhibitor of its activity, named cerulenin, abolished the growth response to both ligands. Our data suggest that GPER may be included among the transduction mediators involved by estrogens in regulating FASN expression and activity in cancer cells and CAFs that strongly contribute to cancer progression.

Concepts: Gene expression, Cancer, Oncology, Signal transduction, Metabolism, Fatty acid metabolism, Enzyme inhibitor, Fatty acid synthase


BACKGROUND: MultiAlign is a free software tool that aligns multiple liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry datasets to one another by clustering mass and chromatographic elution features across datasets. Applicable to both label-free proteomics and metabolomics comparative analyses, the software can be operated in several modes. For example, clustered features can be matched to a reference database to identify analytes, used to generate abundance profiles, linked to tandem mass spectra based on parent precursor masses, and culled for targeted liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometric analysis. MultiAlign is also capable of tandem mass spectral clustering to describe proteome structure and find similarity in subsequent sample runs. RESULTS: MultiAlign was applied to two large proteomics datasets obtained from liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analyses of environmental samples. Peptides in the datasets for a microbial community that had a known metagenome were identified by matching mass and elution time features to those in an established reference peptide database. Results compared favorably with those obtained using existing tools such as VIPER, but with the added benefit of being able to trace clusters of peptides across conditions to existing tandem mass spectra. MultiAlign was further applied to detect clusters across experimental samples derived from a reactor biomass community for which no metagenome was available. Several clusters were culled for further analysis to explore changes in the community structure. Lastly, MultiAlign was applied to liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-based datasets obtained from a previously published study of wild type and mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation enzyme knockdown mutants of human hepatocarcinoma to demonstrate its utility for analyzing metabolomics datasets. CONCLUSION: MultiAlign is an efficient software package for finding similar analytes across multiple liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry feature maps, as demonstrated here for both proteomics and metabolomics experiments. The software is particularly useful for proteomic studies where little or no genomic context is known, such as with environmental proteomics.

Concepts: Protein, Mass spectrometry, Genomics, Fatty acid metabolism, Chromatography, Analytical chemistry, Proteomics, Functional genomics


Obesity is a progressive metabolic disorder in the current world population, and is characterized by the excess deposition of fat in the adipose tissue. Pancreatic lipase is one of the key enzymes in the hydrolysis of triglycerides into monoglycerides and free fatty acids, and is thus considered a promising target for the treatment of obesity. The present drugs used for treating obesity do not give satisfactory results, and on prolonged usage result in severe side effects. In view of the drastic increase in the obese population day-to-day, there is a greater need to discover new drugs with lesser side effects.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Enzyme, Triglyceride, Fat, Fatty acid metabolism, Lipid


The metabolic basis of Alzheimer disease (AD) pathology and expression of AD symptoms is poorly understood. Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids have previously been linked to both protective and pathogenic effects in AD. However, to date little is known about how the abundance of these species is affected by differing levels of disease pathology in the brain.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Triglyceride, Essential fatty acid, Fat, Fatty acid metabolism, Fatty acid synthase


Rats artificially selected over several generations for high intrinsic endurance/aerobic capacity resulting in high capacity runners (HCR) has been developed to study the links between high aerobic fitness and protection from metabolic diseases (Wisloff et al., Science, 2005). We have previously shown that the HCR strain have elevated hepatic mitochondrial content and oxidative capacity. In this study, we tested if the elevated hepatic mitochondrial content in the HCR rat would provide “metabolic protection” from chronic ethanol-induced hepatic steatosis and injury. The Leiber-Decarli liquid diet with ethanol (7% v/v; HCR-E) and without (HCR-C) was given to HCR rats (n = 8 per group) from 14 to 20 weeks of age that were weight matched and pair-fed to assure isocaloric intake. Hepatic triglyceride (TG) content and macro- and microvesicular steatosis were significantly greater in HCR-E compared with HCR-C (p < 0.05). In addition, hepatic superoxide dismutase activity and glutathione levels were significantly (p < 0.05) reduced in the HCR-E rats. This hepatic phenotype also was associated with reduced total hepatic fatty acid oxidation (p = 0.03) and β-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity (p = 0.01), and reductions in microsomal triglyceride transfer protein and apoB-100 protein content (p = 0.01) in HCR-E animals. However, despite these documented hepatic alterations, ethanol ingestion failed to induce significant hepatic liver injury, including no changes in hepatic inflammation, or serum alanine amino transferase (ALTs), free fatty acids (FFAs), triglycerides (TGs), insulin, or glucose. High intrinsic aerobic fitness did not reduce ethanol-induced hepatic steatosis, but protected against ethanol-induced hepatic injury and systemic metabolic dysfunction in a high aerobic capacity rat model.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Triglyceride, Omega-3 fatty acid, Fatty acid metabolism, Lipid, Glycerol