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Biosynthesis of Triacylglycerols

Dr Howaida Nounou
College of science
Biochemistry department

Dr Howaida Nounou 1
Also called neutral fats, triglycerides or TAGs.
Function: storage of metabolic energy
high energy content ~38 kJ/g
stored in adipose tissue
Biosynthesis of TGs from 2 precursors
glycerol 3-phosphate
Fatty acyl-CoAs
synthesis generates a phosphatidic acid (DAG-3P:
diacylglycerol-3-P) (common intermediate in the
synthesis of TAGs, phosphoglyserides.)

Dr Howaida Nounou 2
 The starting point is glycerol 3-P
that is formed:

1. Mainly in the adipose tissue by

reduction of dihydroxyacetone P

2. To lesser extend by
phosphorylation of glycerol by
glycerol kinase that is active in
liver, kidney, intestine and lacting
mammary gland (Glycerol kinase
has very low activity in adipose
tissue and muscle)

Dr Howaida Nounou 3
 The pathway involves 4 enzymatic steps
involving 3 acyltransferases and a

 Two molecules of acyl-CoA, formed by

the activation of fatty acids by acyl-
CoA synthetase (thiokinase) using
ATP, combine with glycerol 3-P to form
phosphatidate (1,2-diacylglycerol -3- 1-acylglycerol-3-P

 This takes place in two stages,

catalyzed by glycerol-3-P acyl
transferase and 1-acylglycerol-3-P
acyl transferase.

Dr Howaida Nounou 4
 In most phosphatidates, the
fatty acyl chain attached to C1
is saturated, while the one
attached to C2 is unsaturated

Key intermediate for production

of both TAGs and membrane

Dr Howaida Nounou 5
(formed in
endoplasmic reticulum)

3rd step: H2O


(important in cell signaling)

4th step: esterifies a
fatty acid at the C 3
of glycerol
transported to adipocytes

Dr Howaida Nounou 6