Fatty acid synthesis in the central nervous system is implicated in the control of food intake and energy expenditure. An intermediate in this pathway, malonyl-CoA, mediates these effects. Malonyl-CoA is an established inhibitor of carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1 (CPT1), an outer mitochondrial membrane enzyme that controls entry of fatty acids into mitochondria and, thereby, fatty acid oxidation. CPT1c, a brain-specific enzyme with high sequence similarity to CPT1a (liver) and CPT1b (muscle) was recently discovered. All three CPTs bind malonyl-CoA, and CPT1a and CPT1b catalyze acyl transfer from various fatty acyl-CoAs to carnitine, whereas CPT1c does not. These findings suggest that CPT1c has a unique function or activation mechanism. We produced a targeted mouse knockout (KO) of CPT1c to investigate its role in energy homeostasis. CPT1c KO mice have lower body weight and food intake, which is consistent with a role as an energy-sensing malonyl-CoA target. Paradoxically, CPT1c KO mice fed a high-fat diet are more susceptible to obesity, suggesting that CPT1c is protective against the effects of fat feeding. CPT1c KO mice also exhibit decreased rates of fatty acid oxidation, which may contribute to their increased susceptibility to diet-induced obesity. These findings indicate that CPT1c is necessary for the regulation of energy homeostasis.
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