In mammals, a family of five acyl-CoA synthetases (ACSLs), each the product of a separate gene, activates long chain fatty acids to form acyl-CoAs. Because the ACSL isoforms have overlapping preferences for fatty acid chain length and saturation and are expressed in many of the same tissues, the individual function of each isoform has remained uncertain. Thus, we constructed a mouse model with a liver-specific knock-out of ACSL1, a major ACSL isoform in liver. Eliminating ACSL1 in liver resulted in a 50% decrease in total hepatic ACSL activity and a 25-35% decrease in long chain acyl-CoA content. Although the content of triacylglycerol was unchanged in Acsl1(L)(-/-) liver after mice were fed either low or high fat diets, in isolated primary hepatocytes the absence of ACSL1 diminished the incorporation of [(14)C]oleate into triacylglycerol. Further, small but consistent increases were observed in the percentage of 16:0 in phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine and of 18:1 in phosphatidylethanolamine and lysophosphatidylcholine, whereas concomitant decreases were seen in 18:0 in phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine, and lysophosphatidylcholine. In addition, decreases in long chain acylcarnitine content and diminished production of acid-soluble metabolites from [(14)C]oleate suggested that hepatic ACSL1 is important for mitochondrial beta-oxidation of long chain fatty acids. Because the Acsl1(L)(-/-) mice were not protected from developing either high fat diet-induced hepatic steatosis or insulin resistance, our study suggests that lowering the content of hepatic acyl-CoA without a concomitant decrease in triacylglycerol and other lipid intermediates is insufficient to protect against hepatic insulin resistance.
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