Changes in internal pH caused by movement of fatty acids into and out of clonal pancreatic beta-cells (HIT)
J Biol Chem. 1994 Aug 19;269(33):20852-6.
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Cells require a constant influx of free fatty acids for lipid resynthesis and metabolic energy. Fatty acids also act as second messengers and modulate channel activities. In the pancreatic beta-cell, fatty acids have both acute and chronic effects on insulin secretion. We show that the addition of fatty acid to pancreatic beta-cells in vitro produces a persistent decrease in intracellular pH, which begins immediately after the addition of fatty acid and has an exponential time course with t1/2 approximately 60 s. The pH drop can be largely reversed by the addition of albumin. The observed pH effect can be explained by passive diffusion ("flip-flop") of un-ionized fatty acid across the plasma membrane. Acidification by a fatty acid dimer and alkalinization by an alkylamine also favor the flip-flop mechanism of transport rather than a protein-mediated mechanism. Our method provides for the first time a real-time measurement of fatty acid import into cells. The significant pH change may be important in mediating some of the regulatory effects of fatty acid, such as inhibition of glycolysis.