The hepatic expression of Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 (NPC1L1), which is a key molecule in intestinal cholesterol absorption, is high in humans. In addition to NPC1L1, Niemann-Pick C2 (NPC2), a secretory cholesterol-binding protein involved in intracellular cholesterol trafficking and the stimulation of biliary cholesterol secretion, is also expressed in the liver. In this study, we examined the molecular interaction and functional association between NPC1L1 and NPC2. In vitro studies with adenovirus-based or plasmid-mediated gene transfer systems revealed that NPC1L1 negatively regulated the protein expression and secretion of NPC2 without affecting the level of NPC2 messenger RNA. Experiments with small interfering RNA against NPC1L1 confirmed the endogenous association of these proteins. In addition, endocytosed NPC2 could compensate for the reduction of NPC2 in NPC1L1-overexpressing cells, and this demonstrated that the posttranscriptional regulation of NPC2 was dependent on a novel ability of NPC1L1 to inhibit the maturation of NPC2 and accelerate the degradation of NPC2 during its maturation. Furthermore, to confirm the physiological relevance of NPC1L1-mediated regulation, we analyzed human liver specimens and found a negative correlation between the protein levels of hepatic NPC1L1 and hepatic NPC2. CONCLUSION: NPC1L1 down-regulates the expression and secretion of NPC2 by inhibiting its maturation and accelerating its degradation. NPC2 functions as a regulator of intracellular cholesterol trafficking and biliary cholesterol secretion; therefore, in addition to its role in cholesterol re-uptake from the bile by hepatocytes, hepatic NPC1L1 may control cholesterol homeostasis via the down-regulation of NPC2.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Niemann-Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1) is a polytopic transmembrane protein responsible for dietary cholesterol and biliary cholesterol absorption. Consistent with its functions, NPC1L1 distributes on the brush border membrane of enterocytes and the canalicular membrane of hepatocytes in humans. As the molecular target of ezetimibe, a hypocholesterolemic drug, its physiological and pathological significance has been recognized and intensively studied for years. Recently, plenty of new findings reveal the molecular mechanism of NPC1L1's role in cholesterol uptake, which may provide new insights on our understanding of cholesterol absorption. In this review, we summarized recent progress in these studies and proposed a working model, hoping to provide new perspectives on the regulation of cholesterol transport and metabolism.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We recently reported that lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) knock-out mice, particularly in the LDL receptor knock-out
background, are hypersensitive to insulin and resistant to high fat diet-induced insulin resistance (IR) and obesity. We demonstrated
that chow-fed Ldlr−/−xLcat+/+ mice have elevated hepatic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, which promotes IR, compared with wild-type controls, and
this effect is normalized in Ldlr−/−xLcat−/− mice. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that hepatic ER cholesterol metabolism differentially regulates ER
stress using these models. We observed that the Ldlr−/−xLcat+/+ mice accumulate excess hepatic total and ER cholesterol primarily attributed to increased reuptake of biliary cholesterol
as we observed reduced biliary cholesterol in conjunction with decreased hepatic Abcg5/g8 mRNA, increased Npc1l1 mRNA, and decreased Hmgr mRNA and nuclear SREBP2 protein. Intestinal NPC1L1 protein was induced. Expression of these genes was reversed in the Ldlr−/−xLcat−/− mice, accounting for the normalization of total and ER cholesterol and ER stress. Upon feeding a 2% high cholesterol diet
(HCD), Ldlr−/−xLcat−/− mice accumulated a similar amount of total hepatic cholesterol compared with the Ldlr−/−xLcat+/+ mice, but the hepatic ER cholesterol levels remained low in conjunction with being protected from HCD-induced ER stress
and IR. Hepatic ER stress correlates strongly with hepatic ER free cholesterol but poorly with hepatic tissue free cholesterol.
The unexpectedly low ER cholesterol seen in HCD-fed Ldlr−/−xLcat−/− mice was attributable to a coordinated marked up-regulation of ACAT2 and suppressed SREBP2 processing. Thus, factors influencing
the accumulation of ER cholesterol may be important for the development of hepatic insulin resistance.
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