Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase isoform-4 (GPAT4) limits oxidation of exogenous fatty acids in brown adipocytes [Metabolism]

April 27th, 2015 by Cooper, D. E., Grevengoed, T. J., Klett, E. L., Coleman, R. A.

Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase-4 (GPAT4) null pups grew poorly during the suckling period and, as adults, were protected from high fat diet-induced obesity. To determine why Gpat4-/- mice failed to gain weight during these two periods of high-fat feeding, we examined energy metabolism. Compared to controls, the metabolic rate of Gpat4-/- mice fed a 45% fat diet was 12% higher. Core body temperature was 1 degree C higher after high-fat feeding. Food intake, fat absorption, and activity were similar in both genotypes. Impaired weight gain in Gpat4-/- mice did not result from increased heat loss, because both cold tolerance and response to a β3-adrenergic agonist were similar in both genotypes. Because GPAT4 comprises 65% of the total GPAT activity in brown adipose tissue (BAT), we characterized BAT function. A 45% fat diet increased the Gpat4-/- BAT expression of PPARalpha target genes, Cpt1alpha, Pgc1alpha, and Ucp1, and BAT mitochondria oxidized oleate and pyruvate at higher rates than controls, suggesting that fatty acid signaling and flux through the TCA cycle were enhanced. To assess the role of GPAT4 directly, neonatal BAT preadipocytes were differentiated to adipocytes. Compared to controls, Gpat4-/- brown adipocytes incorporated 33% less fatty acid into triacylglycerol and 46% more into the pathway of β-oxidation. The increased oxidation rate was due solely to an increase in the oxidation of exogenous fatty acids. These data suggest that in the absence of cold exposure, GPAT4 limits excessive fatty acid oxidation and the detrimental induction of a hypermetabolic state.