Redirecting Cytosol Lipid Droplets for Enhanced Production

Tech ID: 25156 / UC Case 2015-449-0



Patent Status

Patent Pending

Brief Description


Lipids (oils) produced by plants and photosynthetic microorganisms are used for general cooking, health food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and biodiesel. The current methods to produce oils with photosynthetic microorganisms are inefficient, since the cells must undergo extreme stress for lipid droplet (LD) accumulation and then be killed for extraction. Accumulation of LDs in the cytosol generates metabolic feedback inhibition. Some of these problems also apply to oil production with plants. A more efficient production practice is needed to meet high consumer and commercial demands.


Brief Description:

UCR researchers have developed a method to optimize oil synthesis in microorganisms and plants by redirecting cytosolic LDs to the cell vacuoles. They successfully identified and modified a specific protein involved in directing lipids to various areas within the cell. Through restructuring and adding novel peptides, researchers were then able to re-route the fate of lipids into vacuoles (storage warehouses), thus eliminating metabolic feedback inhibition. Currently, they are also working towards achieving redirection of lipids to the cell exterior for excretion.


  • Lipid droplets can be moved to pre-vacuoles and vacuoles for more oil accumulation or excretion
  • Redirection into cell vacuoles or exterior allows for continuous production of cultured microorganisms


  • Production of oils by microorganisms and plants for cooking, health food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and biodiesel
  • Potential medicinal technology to treat obesity in excreting lipid droplets


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Other Information


lipid droplets, subcellular secretory pathway, biodiesel, bioreactor

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