Lipid droplets (LDs) are dynamic organelles that store neutral lipids during times of energy excess, such as after a meal. LDs serve as an energy reservoir during fasting and have a buffering capacity that prevents lipotoxicity. Autophagy and the autophagic machinery have been proposed to play a role in LD biogenesis, but the underlying molecular mechanism remains unclear. Here, we show that when nuclear receptor co-repressor 1 (NCoR1), which inhibits the transactivation of nuclear receptors, accumulates because of autophagy suppression, LDs decrease in size and number. Ablation of ATG7, a gene essential for autophagy, suppressed the expression of gene targets of liver X receptor α, a nuclear receptor responsible for fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis in an NCoR1-dependent manner. LD accumulation in response to fasting and after hepatectomy was hampered by the suppression of autophagy. These results suggest that autophagy controls physiological hepatosteatosis by fine-tuning NCoR1 protein levels.
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