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Concept: Fatty acid synthase


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


We performed integrative network analyses to identify targets that can be used for effectively treating liver diseases with minimal side effects. We first generated co-expression networks (CNs) for 46 human tissues and liver cancer to explore the functional relationships between genes and examined the overlap between functional and physical interactions. Since increased de novo lipogenesis is a characteristic of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), we investigated the liver-specific genes co-expressed with fatty acid synthase (FASN). CN analyses predicted that inhibition of these liver-specific genes decreases FASN expression. Experiments in human cancer cell lines, mouse liver samples, and primary human hepatocytes validated our predictions by demonstrating functional relationships between these liver genes, and showing that their inhibition decreases cell growth and liver fat content. In conclusion, we identified liver-specific genes linked to NAFLD pathogenesis, such as pyruvate kinase liver and red blood cell (PKLR), or to HCC pathogenesis, such as PKLR, patatin-like phospholipase domain containing 3 (PNPLA3), and proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9), all of which are potential targets for drug development.

Concepts: Cancer, Fatty acid, Obesity, Cirrhosis, Liver, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Fatty liver, Fatty acid synthase


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


AgRP neurons control peripheral substrate utilization and nutrient partitioning during conditions of energy deficit and nutrient replenishment, although the molecular mechanism is unknown. We examined whether carnitine acetyltransferase (Crat) in AgRP neurons affects peripheral nutrient partitioning. Crat deletion in AgRP neurons reduced food intake and feeding behavior and increased glycerol supply to the liver during fasting, as a gluconeogenic substrate, which was mediated by changes to sympathetic output and peripheral fatty acid metabolism in the liver. Crat deletion in AgRP neurons increased peripheral fatty acid substrate utilization and attenuated the switch to glucose utilization after refeeding, indicating altered nutrient partitioning. Proteomic analysis in AgRP neurons shows that Crat regulates protein acetylation and metabolic processing. Collectively, our studies highlight that AgRP neurons require Crat to provide the metabolic flexibility to optimize nutrient partitioning and regulate peripheral substrate utilization, particularly during fasting and refeeding.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Triglyceride, Fat, Fatty acid metabolism, Glycerol, Fatty acid synthase


The gut microbiota plays a significant role in the progression of fatty liver disease; however, the mediators and their mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Comparing metabolite profile differences between germ-free and conventionally raised mice against differences between mice fed a low- and high-fat diet (HFD), we identified tryptamine and indole-3-acetate (I3A) as metabolites that depend on the microbiota and are depleted under a HFD. Both metabolites reduced fatty-acid- and LPS-stimulated production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in macrophages and inhibited the migration of cells toward a chemokine, with I3A exhibiting greater potency. In hepatocytes, I3A attenuated inflammatory responses under lipid loading and reduced the expression of fatty acid synthase and sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c. These effects were abrogated in the presence of an aryl-hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) antagonist, indicating that the effects are AhR dependent. Our results suggest that gut microbiota could influence inflammatory responses in the liver through metabolites engaging host receptors.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Metabolism, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Fat, Serotonin, Fatty acid synthase


Mechanisms controlling the proliferative activity of neural stem and progenitor cells (NSPCs) have a pivotal role to ensure life-long neurogenesis in the mammalian brain. How metabolic programs are coupled with NSPC activity remains unknown. Here we show that fatty acid synthase (Fasn), the key enzyme of de novo lipogenesis, is highly active in adult NSPCs and that conditional deletion of Fasn in mouse NSPCs impairs adult neurogenesis. The rate of de novo lipid synthesis and subsequent proliferation of NSPCs is regulated by Spot14, a gene previously implicated in lipid metabolism, that we found to be selectively expressed in low proliferating adult NSPCs. Spot14 reduces the availability of malonyl-CoA, which is an essential substrate for Fasn to fuel lipogenesis. Thus, we identify here a functional coupling between the regulation of lipid metabolism and adult NSPC proliferation.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Protein, Neuron, Metabolism, Fat, Neurogenesis, Lipid, Fatty acid synthase


Accurate measures of plasma FA oxidation can improve our understanding of diseases characterized by impaired FA oxidation. We describe and compare the 24 h time-courses of FA oxidation using bolus injections of [1-(14)C]palmitate versus [9,10-(3)H]palmitate under postabsorptive, postprandial, and walking conditions. Fifty-one men and 95 premenopausal women participated in one condition (postabsorptive, postprandial, or walking), one tracer ((14)C- or (3)H-labeled), and an acetate or palmitate study. Groups were matched for sex, age, and body mass index (BMI). At 24 h, cumulative [(3)H]acetate recovery as (3)H(2)O was 80 ± 6%, 78 ± 2%, and 81 ± 6% in the postabsorptive, postprandial, and walking conditions, respectively (not significant). Model-predicted maximum [1-(14)C]acetate recovery as expired (14)CO(2) was 59 ± 12%, 52 ± 8%, and 65 ± 10% in the postabsorptive, postprandial, and walking condition, respectively (one way ANOVA, P = 0.12). When corrected with the corresponding acetate recovery factors, 24 h time-courses of FFA oxidation were similar between [1-(14)C]palmitate and [9,10-(3)H]palmitate in all three conditions. In contrast to previous meal ingestion studies, an acetate-hydrogen recovery factor was needed to achieve comparable oxidation rates using an intravenous bolus of [(3)H]palmitate. In conclusion, intravenous boluses of [9,10-(3)H]palmitate versus [1-(14)C]palmitate gave similar estimates of 24 h cumulative FFA oxidation in age-, sex- and BMI-matched individuals.

Concepts: Fatty acid, Hydrogen, Essential fatty acid, Fatty acid metabolism, Body mass index, Fatty acid synthase, Palmitic acid, One-way ANOVA


A serum metabonomic profiling method based on ultra-performance liquid chromatography/time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC/TOF-MS) was applied to investigate the metabolic changes in hypothyroid rats induced by propylthiouracil (PTU). With Significance Analysis of Microarray (SAM) for classification and selection of biomarkers, 13 potential biomarkers in rat serum were screened out. Furthermore, Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) was introduced to deeply analyze unique pathways of hypothyroidism that were primarily involved in sphingolipid metabolism, fatty acid transportation, phospholipid metabolism and phenylalanine metabolism. Our results demonstrated that the metabonomic approach integrating with IPA was a promising tool for providing a novel methodological clue to systemically dissect the underlying molecular mechanism of hypothyroidism.

Concepts: Amino acid, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Triglyceride, Fat, Lipid, Hyperthyroidism, Fatty acid synthase


The fatty acid synthase (FASN) and stearoyl-CoA desaturase (delta-9-desaturase) (SCD) genes affect fatty acid composition. This study evaluated the contributions of polymorphisms of these genes on fatty acid composition in muscle in two different populations: 1189 and 1058 Japanese Black cattle from the Miyagi and the Yamagata populations respectively. We sampled intramuscular fat from the longissimus thoracis muscle in the Miyagi population and from the trapezius muscle in the Yamagata population. The collective contributions of FASN and SCD polymorphisms to total additive genetic variance for oleic acid were 13.46% in the Miyagi population and 16.29% in the Yamagata population and to phenotypic variance were 5.45% and 6.54% respectively. Although the individual effects of FASN and SCD polymorphisms on fatty acid composition were small, overall gene substitution may effectively improve fatty acid composition. In addition, we found that gene polymorphism contributions of fatty acids varied by population even in the same breed.

Concepts: Gene, Fatty acid, Fatty acids, Essential fatty acid, Fat, Fatty acid metabolism, Oleic acid, Fatty acid synthase


Fatty acid metabolism has received significant attention as a route for producing high-energy density, liquid transportation fuels and high-value oleochemicals from renewable feedstocks. If microbes can be engineered to produce these compounds at yields that approach the theoretical limits of 0.3-0.4g/g glucose, then processes can be developed to replace current petrochemical technologies. Here, we review recent metabolic engineering efforts to maximize production of free fatty acids (FFA) in Escherichia coli, the first step towards production of downstream products. To date, metabolic engineers have succeeded in achieving higher yields of FFA than any downstream products. Regulation of fatty acid metabolism and the physiological effects of fatty acid production will also be reviewed from the perspective of identifying future engineering targets.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Water, Fat, Fatty acid metabolism, Fatty acid synthase