Opposite regulation of cholesterol levels by the phosphatase and hydrolase domains of soluble epoxide hydrolase.
ABSTRACT Soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) is a bifunctional enzyme with two catalytic domains: a C-terminal epoxide hydrolase domain and an N-terminal phosphatase domain. Epidemiology and animal studies have attributed a variety of cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory effects to the C-terminal epoxide hydrolase domain. The recent association of sEH with cholesterol-related disorders, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor activity, and the isoprenoid/cholesterol biosynthesis pathway additionally suggest a role of sEH in regulating cholesterol metabolism. Here we used sEH knock-out (sEH-KO) mice and transfected HepG2 cells to evaluate the phosphatase and hydrolase domains in regulating cholesterol levels. In sEH-KO male mice we found a approximately 25% decrease in plasma total cholesterol as compared with wild type (sEH-WT) male mice. Consistent with plasma cholesterol levels, liver expression of HMG-CoA reductase was found to be approximately 2-fold lower in sEH-KO male mice. Additionally, HepG2 cells stably expressing human sEH with phosphatase only or hydrolase only activity demonstrate independent and opposite roles of the two sEH domains. Whereas the phosphatase domain elevated cholesterol levels, the hydrolase domain lowered cholesterol levels. Hydrolase inhibitor treatment in sEH-WT male and female mice as well as HepG2 cells expressing human sEH resulted in higher cholesterol levels, thus mimicking the effect of expressing the phosphatase domain in HepG2 cells. In conclusion, we show that sEH regulates cholesterol levels in vivo and in vitro, and we propose the phosphatase domain as a potential therapeutic target in hypercholesterolemia-related disorders.