Identification of seipin-linked factors that act as determinants of a lipid droplet subpopulation.
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Functional heterogeneity within the lipid droplet (LD) pool of a single cell has been observed, yet the underlying mechanisms remain enigmatic. Here, we report on identification of a specialized LD subpopulation characterized by a unique proteome and a defined geographical location at the nucleus-vacuole junction contact site. In search for factors determining identity of these LDs, we screened 6,000 yeast mutants for loss of targeting of the subpopulation marker Pdr16 and identified Ldo45 (LD organization protein of 45 kD) as a crucial targeting determinant. Ldo45 is the product of a splicing event connecting two adjacent genes (YMR147W and YMR148W/OSW5/LDO16). We show that Ldo proteins cooperate with the LD biogenesis component seipin and establish LD identity by defining positioning and surface-protein composition. Our studies suggest a mechanism to establish functional differentiation of organelles, opening the door to better understanding of metabolic decisions in cells.