Microsomal triglyceride transfer protein regulates intracellular lipolysis in adipocytes independent of its lipid transfer activity

Sujith Rajan, Peter Hofer, Amanda Christiano, Matthew Stevenson, Louis Ragolia, Eugenia Villa-Cuesta, Susan K. Fried, Raymond Lau, Collin Braithwaite, Rudolf Zechner, Gary J. Schwartz, M. Mahmood Hussain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The triglyceride (TG) transfer activity of microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP) is essential for lipoprotein assembly in the liver and intestine; however, its function in adipose tissue, which does not assemble lipoproteins, is unknown. Here we have elucidated the function of MTP in adipocytes. Approach and results: We demonstrated that MTP is present on lipid droplets in human adipocytes. Adipose-specific MTP deficient (A-Mttp−/−) male and female mice fed an obesogenic diet gained less weight than Mttpf/f mice, had less fat mass, smaller adipocytes and were insulin sensitive. A-Mttp−/− mice showed higher energy expenditure than Mttpf/f mice. During a cold challenge, A-Mttp−/− mice maintained higher body temperature by mobilizing more fatty acids. Biochemical studies indicated that MTP deficiency de-repressed adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) activity and increased TG lipolysis. Both wild type MTP and mutant MTP deficient in TG transfer activity interacted with and inhibited ATGL activity. Thus, the TG transfer activity of MTP is not required for ATGL inhibition. C-terminally truncated ATGL that retains its lipase activity interacted less efficiently than full-length ATGL. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that adipose-specific MTP deficiency increases ATGL-mediated TG lipolysis and enhances energy expenditure, thereby resisting diet-induced obesity. We speculate that the regulatory function of MTP involving protein-protein interactions might have evolved before the acquisition of TG transfer activity in vertebrates. Adipose-specific inhibition of MTP-ATGL interactions may ameliorate obesity while avoiding the adverse effects associated with inhibition of the lipid transfer activity of MTP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number155331
JournalMetabolism: Clinical and Experimental
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • ATGL
  • Free fatty acids
  • HSL
  • Obesity
  • Protein-protein interactions
  • Thermogenesis


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