Mice deficient in ER protein seipin have reduced adrenal cholesteryl ester lipid droplet formation and utilization

Wen Jun Shen, Yuan Cortez, Amar Singh, Weiqin Chen, Salman Azhar, Fredric B. Kraemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cholesteryl ester (CE)-rich lipid droplets (LDs) accumulate in steroidogenic tissues under physiological conditions and constitute an important source of cholesterol as the precursor for the synthesis of all steroid hormones. The mechanisms specifically involved in CE-rich LD formation have not been directly studied and are assumed by most to occur in a fashion analogous to triacylglycerol-rich LDs. Seipin is an endoplasmic reticulum protein that forms oligomeric complexes at endoplasmic reticulum-LD contact sites, and seipin deficiency results in severe alterations in LD maturation and morphology as seen in Berardinelli-Seip congenital lipodystrophy type 2. While seipin is critical for triacylglycerol-rich LD formation, no studies have directly addressed whether seipin is important for CE-rich LD biogenesis. To address this issue, mice with deficient expression of seipin specifically in adrenal, testis, and ovary, steroidogenic tissues that accumulate CE-rich LDs under normal physiological conditions, were generated. We found that the steroidogenic-specific seipin-deficient mice displayed a marked reduction in LD and CE accumulation in the adrenals, demonstrating the pivotal role of seipin in CE-rich LD accumulation/formation. Moreover, the reduction in CE-rich LDs was associated with significant defects in adrenal and gonadal steroid hormone production that could not be completely reversed by addition of exogenous lipoprotein cholesterol. We conclude that seipin has a heretofore unappreciated role in intracellular cholesterol trafficking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100309
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Berardinelli-Seip congenital lipodystrophy type 2
  • adrenal
  • cholesterol
  • cholesterol trafficking
  • lipid droplet maturation
  • ovary
  • seipin deficiency
  • steroidogenesis
  • testis
  • triacylglycerol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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