[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dietary absorption is a major way for mammals to obtain cholesterol, which is mediated by Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 (NPC1L1) via vesicular endocytosis. One fundamental question in this process is how free cholesterol is efficiently taken up through the internalization of NPC1L1. Using exogenously expressed NPC1L1-EGFP, we show that the lipid raft proteins flotillins associate with NPC1L1 and their localization is regulated by NPC1L1 during intracellular trafficking. Furthermore, flotillins are essential for NPC1L1-mediated cellular cholesterol uptake, biliary cholesterol reabsorption, and the regulation of lipid levels in mice. Together with NPC1L1, they form cholesterol-enriched membrane microdomains, which function as carriers for bulk of cholesterol. The hypocholesterolemic drug ezetimibe disrupts the association between NPC1L1 and flotillins, which blocks the formation of the cholesterol-enriched microdomains. Our findings reveal a functional role of flotillins in NPC1L1-mediated cholesterol uptake and elucidate the formation of NPC1L1-flotillins-postive cholesterol-enriched membrane microdomains as a mechanism for efficient cholesterol absorption.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2011; 108(2):551-6. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 (NPC1L1) is a polytopic transmembrane protein that plays a critical role in cholesterol absorption. Ezetimibe, a hypocholesterolemic drug, has been reported to bind NPC1L1 and block cholesterol absorption. However, the molecular mechanism of NPC1L1-mediated cholesterol uptake and how ezetimibe inhibits this process are poorly defined. Here we find that cholesterol specifically promotes the internalization of NPC1L1 and that this process requires microfilaments and the clathrin/AP2 complex. Blocking NPC1L1 endocytosis dramatically decreases cholesterol internalization, indicating that NPC1L1 mediates cholesterol uptake via its vesicular endocytosis. Ezetimibe prevents NPC1L1 from incorporating into clathrin-coated vesicles and thus inhibits cholesterol uptake. Together, our data suggest a model wherein cholesterol is internalized into cells with NPC1L1 through clathrin/AP2-mediated endocytosis and ezetimibe inhibits cholesterol absorption by blocking the internalization of NPC1L1.