Triglyceride-containing lipid droplets (LD) are dynamic organelles stored on demand in all cells. These droplets grow through a fusion process mediated by SNARE proteins, including SNAP23. The droplets have also been shown to be highly motile and interact with other cell organelles, including peroxisomes and the endoplasmic reticulum. We have used electron and confocal microscopy to demonstrate that LD form complexes with mitochondria in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts. Using an in vitro system of purified LD and mitochondria, we also show the formation of the LD-mitochondria complex, in which cytosolic factors are involved. Moreover, the presence of LD markers in mitochondria isolated by subcellular fractionations is demonstrated. Finally, ablation of SNAP23 using siRNA reduced complex formation and beta oxidation, which suggests that the LD-mitochondria complex is functional in the cell. © 2009 International Federation for Cell Biology.
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