Fatty acid desaturation regulates membrane function and fat storage in animals. To determine the contribution of stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) activity on fat storage and development in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, we analyzed the lipid composition and lipid droplet size in the fat-6;fat-7 desaturase mutants, independently, and in combination with mutants disrupted in conserved lipid metabolic pathways. C. elegans with impaired SCD activity displayed both reduced fat stores and decreased lipid droplet size. Mutants in the daf-2 (insulin-like growth factor receptor), rsks-1 (homolog of p70S6kinase, an effector of the TOR signaling pathway), and daf-7 (transforming growth factor beta) display high fat stores, the opposite of the low fat observed in the fat-6;fat-7 desaturase mutants. The metabolic mutants in combination with fat-6;fat-7 displayed low fat stores, with the exception of the daf-2;fat-6;fat-7 triple mutants, which had increased de novo fatty acid synthesis and wild type levels of fat stores. Notably, stearoyl-CoA desaturase activity is required for the formation of large-sized lipid droplets in all mutant backgrounds, as well as for normal ratios of phosphatidylcholine (PC) to phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). These studies reveal previously uncharacterized roles for stearoyl-CoA desaturases in the regulation of lipid droplet size and membrane phospholipid composition.
Journal of Lipid Research, 2013, Vol 54, p. 2504-2514