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How are fatty acids activated?

Posted July 20, 2022


Answer

Fatty acids are activated to form fatty acyl CoA molecules via a two-step process. This happens when the fatty acids enter the cytosol and react with coenzyme A (CoA). Fatty acid activation occurs in the endoplasmic reticulum and requires ATP (adenosine triphosphate). 

  • In the first step, adenine monophosphate from ATP is transferred to the fatty acid, forming acyl-AMP. The pyrophosphate that is released during this reaction gets hydrolyzed into two orthophosphates, which drives the activation reaction to the next step.  
  • In the second step, the reaction between the acyl-AMP and a coenzyme A molecule results in the formation of fatty acyl-CoA, and the AMP is released. The activated fatty acid is transported into the matrix of the mitochondria.
Additional resources

Fatty acid activation in thermogenic adipose tissue

Membrane Potential and Channels

Screen Quest™ Fluorimetric Fatty Acid Uptake Assay Kit