C. Elegans fatty acid two-hydroxylase regulates intestinal homeostasis by affecting heptadecenoic acid production

Yuanbao Li, Chunxia Wang, Yikai Huang, Rong Fu, Hanxi Zheng, Yi Zhu, Xiaoruo Shi, Prashanth K. Padakanti, Zhude Tu, Xiong Su, Huimin Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background/Aims: The hydroxylation of fatty acids at the C-2 position is the first step of fatty acid α-oxidation and generates sphingolipids containing 2-hydroxy fatty acyl moieties. Fatty acid 2-hydroxylation is catalyzed by Fatty acid 2-hydroxylase (FA2H) enzyme. However, the precise roles of FA2H and fatty acid 2-hydroxylation in whole cell homeostasis still remain unclear. Methods: Here we utilize Caenorhabditis elegans as the model and systemically investigate the physiological functions of FATH-1/C25A1.5, the highly conserved worm homolog for mammalian FA2H enzyme. Immunostaining, dye-staining and translational fusion reporters were used to visualize FATH-1 protein and a variety of subcellular structures. The "click chemistry" method was employed to label 2-OH fatty acid in vivo. Global and tissue-specific RNAi knockdown experiments were performed to inactivate FATH-1 function. Lipid analysis of the fath-1 deficient mutants was achieved by mass spectrometry. Results: C. elegans FATH-1 is expressed at most developmental stages and in most tissues. Loss of fath-1 expression results in severe growth retardation and shortened lifespan. FATH-1 function is crucially required in the intestine but not the epidermis with stereospecificity. The "click chemistry" labeling technique showed that the FATH-1 metabolites are mainly enriched in membrane structures preferable to the apical side of the intestinal cells. At the subcellular level, we found that loss of fath-1 expression inhibits lipid droplets formation, as well as selectively disrupts peroxisomes and apical endosomes. Lipid analysis of the fath-1 deficient animals revealed a significant reduction in the content of heptadecenoic acid, while other major FAs remain unaffected. Feeding of exogenous heptadecenoic acid (C17: 1), but not oleic acid (C18: 1), rescues the global and subcellular defects of fath-1 knockdown worms. Conclusion: Our study revealed that FATH-1 and its catalytic products are highly specific in the context of chirality, C-chain length, spatial distribution, as well as the types of cellular organelles they affect. Such an unexpected degree of specificity for the synthesis and functions of hydroxylated FAs helps to regulate protein transport and fat metabolism, therefore maintaining the cellular homeostasis of the intestinal cells. These findings may help our understanding of FA2H functions across species, and offer potential therapeutical targets for treating FA2H-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-960
Number of pages14
JournalCellular Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • 2-hydroxylation
  • C. elegans
  • FA2H
  • Fatty acids
  • Heptadecenoic acid


Dive into the research topics of 'C. Elegans fatty acid two-hydroxylase regulates intestinal homeostasis by affecting heptadecenoic acid production'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this