Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Nancy Webb


Group X secretory phospholipase A2 (GX sPLA2) hydrolyzes membrane phospholipids producing free fatty acids and lysophospholipids. Previous studies from our lab suggest that mice with targeted deletion of GX sPLA2 (GX KO) have increased age-related weight gain due to an increase in overall adiposity. Paradoxically, this increased adiposity is associated with improved age-related glucose intolerance. GX KO mice also demonstrate a reduced inflammatory response to lipopolysaccharide injection. In vitro studies indicate this phenotype may be attributable to blunted macrophage mediated inflammatory responses. Given the role of macrophages in promoting adipose tissue (AT) inflammation and metabolic dysfunction in response to diet-induced obesity, we hypothesized that GX KO mice would be protected from the obesity related metabolic derangements associated with overfeeding. Unexpectedly, GX KO mice were only partially protected from high fat (HFD) diet-induced glucose intolerance and showed no improvement in HFD-induced insulin resistance. Moreover, GX KO mice were not protected against HFD-induced AT inflammation.

GX sPLA2 is produced as a proenzyme (pro-GX sPLA2), and propeptide cleavage is required for enzymatic activity. Furin-like proprotein convertases (PCs) have recently been implicated in the proteolytic activation of pro-GX sPLA2; however the identity of individual PCs involved is unclear. Previous findings from our lab have shown that GX sPLA2 is expressed in the adrenals where it regulates glucocorticoid production. GX KO mice have increased plasma corticosterone levels under both basal and ACTH-induced stress conditions. However, how GX sPLA2 is regulated in the adrenals is still uncertain. We hypothesized that PCs may be involved in the proteolytic activation of pro-GX sPLA2 in the adrenals. Here we report the novel findings that the PCs, furin and PCSK6, proteolytically activate pro-GX sPLA2 in Y1 adrenal cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that PC dependent processing of pro-GX sPLA2 is necessary for GX sPLA2 dependent suppression of steroidogenesis. Finally, we provide evidence that pro-GX sPLA2 processing by PCs is enhanced in response to adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), suggesting a novel mechanism for negatively regulating adrenal steroidogenesis. Cumulatively, these studies provide valuable insight into the function and regulation of GX sPLA2.