Department of Urology, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China.
#These authors have contributed equally to this work and share first authorship.
A lipid droplet (LD) is an organelle that consists of a phospholipid monolayer and a neutral lipid core, with proteins embedded in or attached to its surface. Until recently, cancers had long been regarded as genetic disorders with the abnormal activation of oncogenes and inactivation of tumor suppressor genes before their quality of a metabolic disorder began to be recognized. The last decade has witnessed the recognition of several metabolic characteristics of cancer cells, among which one is the accumulation of lipid droplets; therefore, attention has been given to exploring the role of LDs in carcinomas. In addition, there has been a remarkable expansion in understanding the complexity of LD's function in cellular homeostasis, including but not limited to energy supply, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and oxidative stress management, or lipotoxicity alleviation. Thus, lipid droplet-associated proteins, which to a great extent determine the dynamics of a lipid droplet, have attracted the interest of numerous cancer researchers and their potential as cancer diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets has been affirmed by emerging evidence. In this review, we systematically summarize the critical role of LDs in cancer and then focus on four categories of lipid droplet-associated proteins having the most direct influence on LD biosynthesis (diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1) and diacylglycerol acyltransferase 2 (DGAT2)), degradation (adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL)), and two renowned protein families on the LD surface (perilipins and cell death-inducing DNA fragmentation factor alpha-like effectors (CIDEs)). In this way, we aim to highlight their important role in tumor progression and their potential in clinical applications.
Keywords: lipid droplet, cancer metabolism, perilipins, CIDEs, DGAT1, DGAT2, ATGL