Exogenous long-chain fatty acids are activated to coenzyme A derivatives prior to metabolic utilization. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the activation of these compounds prior to metabolic utilization proceeds through the fatty acyl-CoA synthetases Faa1p and Faa4p. Faa1p or Faa4p are essential for long-chain fatty acid import, suggesting that one or both of these enzymes are components of the fatty acid transport system, which also includes Fat1p. By monitoring the intracellular accumulation of the fluorescent long-chain fatty acid analogue 4,4-difluoro-5-methyl-4-bora-3a,4a-diazas-indacene-3-dodecanoic acid, long-chain fatty acid transport was shown to be severely restricted in a faa1Δ faa4Δ strain. These data established for the first time a mechanistic linkage between the import and activation of exogenous fatty acids in yeast. To investigate this linkage further, oleoyl CoA levels were defined following incubation of wild type and mutant cells with limiting concentrations of exogenous oleate. These studies demonstrated oleoyl CoA levels were reduced to less than 10% wild-type levels in faa1Δ and faa1Δ faa4Δ strains. Defects in metabolic utilization and intracellular trafficking were also found in the fatty acyl-CoA synthetase-deficient strains. The faa1Δ faa4Δ strain had a marked reduction in endogenous acyl-CoA pools, suggesting these enzymes play a role in maintenance of endogenous acyl-CoA pools, metabolism and trafficking. In addition, this strain had levels of in vivo β-oxidation of exogenous oleate reduced 3-fold when compared with the isogenic parent. Northern analyses demonstrated an additional defect in fatty acid trafficking as FAA1 or FAA4 were required for the transcriptional regulation of the genes encoding the peroxisomal enzymes acyl-CoA oxidase (POX1) and medium-chain acyl-CoA synthetase (FAA2). These data support the hypothesis that fatty acyl-CoA synthetase (Faa1p or Faa4p) functions as a component of the fatty acid import system by linking import and activation of exogenous fatty acids to intracelllar utilization and signaling.
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