The role of carnitine acetyltransferase (CrAT) in regulating cardiac energy metabolism is poorly understood. CrAT modulates mitochondrial acetyl-CoA/CoA (coenzyme A) ratios, thus regulating pyruvate dehydrogenase activity and glucose oxidation. Here, we propose that cardiac CrAT also provides cytosolic acetyl-CoA for the production of malonyl-CoA, a potent inhibitor of fatty acid oxidation. We show that in the murine cardiomyocyte cytosol, reverse CrAT activity (RCrAT, producing acetyl-CoA) is higher compared with the liver, which primarily uses ATP-citrate lyase to produce cytosolic acetyl-CoA for lipogenesis. The heart displayed a lower RCrAT Km for CoA compared with the liver. Furthermore, cytosolic RCrAT accounted for 4.6 ± 0.7% of total activity in heart tissue and 12.7 ± 0.2% in H9C2 cells, while highly purified heart cytosolic fractions showed significant CrAT protein levels. To investigate the relationship between CrAT and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), the cytosolic enzyme catalyzing malonyl-CoA production from acetyl-CoA, we studied ACC2-knockout mouse hearts which showed decreased CrAT protein levels and activity, associated with increased palmitate oxidation and acetyl-CoA/CoA ratio compared with controls. Conversely, feeding mice a high-fat diet for 10 weeks increased cardiac CrAT protein levels and activity, associated with a reduced acetyl-CoA/CoA ratio and glucose oxidation. These data support the presence of a cytosolic CrAT with a low Km for CoA, favoring the formation of cytosolic acetyl-CoA, providing an additional source to the classical ATP-citrate lyase pathway, and that there is an inverse relation between CrAT and the ratio of acetyl-CoA/CoA as evident in conditions affecting the regulation of cardiac energy metabolism.

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