G0S2 and HIG2 are two selective inhibitors of ATGL (also known as PNPLA2), the key enzyme for intracellular lipolysis. Whereas G0S2 regulates triglyceride (TG) mobilization in adipocytes and hepatocytes, HIG2 functions to enhance intracellular TG accumulation under hypoxic conditions. A homologous hydrophobic domain (HD) is shared by G0S2 and HIG2 (also known as HILPDA) for binding to ATGL. However, the determinants of their lipid droplet (LD) localization are unknown. Here, we study how G0S2 and HIG2 are targeted to LDs, and identify both ATGL-independent and -dependent mechanisms. Structural prediction and studies in cells reveal that ATGL-independent localization of G0S2 to both the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and LDs is mediated by a hairpin structure consisting of two hydrophobic sequences. Positively charged residues in the hinge region play a crucial role in sorting G0S2, which initially localizes to ER, to LDs. Interestingly, the role of these positive charges becomes dispensable when ATGL is co-expressed. In comparison, HIG2, which lacks a similar hairpin structure, is dependent on ATGL for its full LD targeting. Thus, our studies identify specific structural features and mechanisms for mediating accumulation of these two ATGL inhibitors on LDs.

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