Transcription factors sense free fatty acids signal

Our blood takes the lipids from our meals in form of so-called free fatty acids. Free fatty acids enter the hepatocytes, and this signal is sensed by molecular sensors. These sensors are for instance PPARα, PPARγ and SREBP-1c. They belong to the group of proteins which function as transcription factors.

These transcription factors transcribe sensed signals (amount and quality of free fatty acids) into molecular actions: for example, they could decide to activate the production of new proteins from inactive genes.

  • These newly generated proteins are involved in all steps of the conversion of free fatty acids and the formation of lipid droplets. That way, free fatty acids are consumed by hepatocytes. When fatty acids exceed the lipid droplets production capacity of hepatocytes, they might provoke the programmed death of hepatocytes, so-called apoptosis. However, at normal levels of free fatty acids, hepatocytes store lipid droplets until these droplets are needed.
  • Author: Iryna Ilkavets

  • Image: Jill Zander and Iryna Ilkavets

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