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Lipid Droplets in Cancer: Guardians of Fat in a Stressful World

by Toni Petan 1,*, Eva Jarc 1,2 and Maida Jusović 1,2
1
Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences, Jožef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana SI-1000, Slovenia
2
Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School, Ljubljana SI-1000, Slovenia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Molecules 2018, 23(8), 1941; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23081941
Received: 6 July 2018 / Revised: 31 July 2018 / Accepted: 1 August 2018 / Published: 3 August 2018
Cancer cells possess remarkable abilities to adapt to adverse environmental conditions. Their survival during severe nutrient and oxidative stress depends on their capacity to acquire extracellular lipids and the plasticity of their mechanisms for intracellular lipid synthesis, mobilisation, and recycling. Lipid droplets, cytosolic fat storage organelles present in most cells from yeast to men, are emerging as major regulators of lipid metabolism, trafficking, and signalling in various cells and tissues exposed to stress. Their biogenesis is induced by nutrient and oxidative stress and they accumulate in various cancers. Lipid droplets act as switches that coordinate lipid trafficking and consumption for different purposes in the cell, such as energy production, protection against oxidative stress or membrane biogenesis during rapid cell growth. They sequester toxic lipids, such as fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides, thereby preventing lipotoxic cell damage and engage in a complex relationship with autophagy. Here, we focus on the emerging mechanisms of stress-induced lipid droplet biogenesis; their roles during nutrient, lipotoxic, and oxidative stress; and the relationship between lipid droplets and autophagy. The recently discovered principles of lipid droplet biology can improve our understanding of the mechanisms that govern cancer cell adaptability and resilience to stress. View Full-Text
Keywords: lipid droplets; fatty acids; autophagy; lipophagy; cancer; oxidative stress; nutrient stress; lipotoxicity; lipase; phospholipase lipid droplets; fatty acids; autophagy; lipophagy; cancer; oxidative stress; nutrient stress; lipotoxicity; lipase; phospholipase
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Petan, T.; Jarc, E.; Jusović, M. Lipid Droplets in Cancer: Guardians of Fat in a Stressful World. Molecules 2018, 23, 1941.

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