The B-type lamins are widely assumed to be essential for mammalian cells. In part, this assumption is based on a highly cited study that found that RNAi-mediated knockdown of lamin B1 or lamin B2 in HeLa cells arrested cell growth and led to apoptosis. Studies indicating that B-type lamins play roles in DNA replication, the formation of the mitotic spindle, chromatin organization and regulation of gene expression have fueled the notion that B-type lamins must be essential. But surprisingly, this idea had never been tested with genetic approaches. Earlier this year, a research group from UCLA reported the development of genetically modified mice that lack expression of both Lmnb1 and Lmnb2 in skin keratinocytes (a cell type that proliferates rapidly and participates in complex developmental programs). They reasoned that if lamins B1 and B2 were truly essential, then keratinocyte-specific lamin B1/lamin B2 knockout mice would exhibit severe pathology. Contrary to expectations, the skin and hair of lamin B1/lamin B2-deficient mice were quite normal, indicating that the B-type lamins are dispensable in some cell types. The same UCLA research group has gone on to show that lamin B1 and lamin B2 are critical for neuronal migration in the developing brain and for neuronal survival. The absence of either lamin B1 or lamin B2, or the absence of both B-type lamins, results in severe neurodevelopmental abnormalities.
lamin B1; lamin B2; nuclear envelope; nuclear lamina
Gpihbp1-deficient mice (Gpihbp1−/−) lack the ability to transport lipoprotein lipase to the capillary lumen, resulting in mislocalization of LPL within tissues, defective lipolysis of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, and chylomicronemia. We asked whether GPIHBP1 deficiency and mislocalization of catalytically active LPL would alter the composition of triglycerides in adipose tissue or perturb the expression of lipid biosynthetic genes. We also asked whether perturbations in adipose tissue composition and gene expression, if they occur, would be accompanied by reciprocal metabolic changes in the liver.
Methods and Results
The chylomicronemia in Gpihbp1−/− mice was associated with reduced levels of essential fatty acids in adipose tissue triglycerides and increased expression of lipid biosynthetic genes. The liver exhibited the opposite changes—increased levels of essential fatty acids in triglycerides and reduced expression of lipid biosynthetic genes.
Defective lipolysis in Gpihbp1−/− mice causes reciprocal metabolic perturbations in adipose tissue and liver. In adipose tissue, the essential fatty acid content of triglycerides is reduced and lipid biosynthetic gene expression is increased, while the opposite changes occur in the liver.
lipoprotein lipase; hypertriglyceridemia; lipolysis; essential fatty acids; lipid biosynthetic genes
A human genome-wide linkage scan for obesity identified a linkage peak on chromosome 5q13–15. Positional cloning revealed an association of a rare haplotype to high body-mass index (BMI) in males but not females. The risk locus contains a single gene, “arrestin domain containing 3” (ARRDC3), an uncharacterized α-arrestin. Inactivating Arrdc3 in mice led to a striking resistance to obesity, with greater impact on male mice. Mice with decreased ARRDC3 levels were protected from obesity due to increased energy expenditure through increased activity levels and increased thermogenesis of both brown and white adipose tissues. ARRDC3 interacted directly with β-adrenergic receptors, and loss of ARRDC3 increased the response to β-adrenergic stimulation in isolated adipose tissue. These results demonstrate that ARRDC3 is a gender-sensitive regulator of obesity and energy expenditure and reveal a surprising diversity for arrestin family protein functions.
Nuclear lamins are usually classified as A-type (lamins A and C) or B-type (lamins B1 and B2). A-type lamins have been implicated in multiple genetic diseases but are not required for cell growth or development. In contrast, B-type lamins have been considered essential in eukaryotic cells, with crucial roles in DNA replication and in the formation of the mitotic spindle. Knocking down the genes for B-type lamins (LMNB1, LMNB2) in HeLa cells has been reported to cause apoptosis. In the current study, we created conditional knockout alleles for mouse Lmnb1 and Lmnb2, with the goal of testing the hypothesis that B-type lamins are crucial for the growth and viability of mammalian cells in vivo. Using the keratin 14-Cre transgene, we bred mice lacking the expression of both Lmnb1 and Lmnb2 in skin keratinocytes (Lmnb1Δ/ΔLmnb2Δ/Δ). Lmnb1 and Lmnb2 transcripts were absent in keratinocytes of Lmnb1Δ/ΔLmnb2Δ/Δ mice, and lamin B1 and lamin B2 proteins were undetectable. But despite an absence of B-type lamins in keratinocytes, the skin and hair of Lmnb1Δ/ΔLmnb2Δ/Δ mice developed normally and were free of histological abnormalities, even in 2-year-old mice. After an intraperitoneal injection of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), similar numbers of BrdU-positive keratinocytes were observed in the skin of wild-type and Lmnb1Δ/ΔLmnb2Δ/Δ mice. Lmnb1Δ/ΔLmnb2Δ/Δ keratinocytes did not exhibit aneuploidy, and their growth rate was normal in culture. These studies challenge the concept that B-type lamins are essential for proliferation and vitality of eukaryotic cells.
Purpose of review
We summarize recent progress on GPIHBP1, a molecule that transports lipoprotein lipase (LPL) to the capillary lumen, and discuss several newly studied molecules that appear important for the regulation of LPL activity.
LPL, the enzyme responsible for the lipolytic processing of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, interacts with multiple proteins and is regulated at multiple levels. Several regulators of LPL activity have been known for years and have been investigated thoroughly, but several have been identified only recently, including an endothelial cell protein that transports LPL to the capillary lumen, a microRNA that reduces LPL transcript levels, a sorting protein that targets LPL for uptake and degradation, and a transcription factor that increases the expression of apolipoproteins that regulate LPL activity.
Proper regulation of LPL is important for controlling the delivery of lipid nutrients to tissues. Recent studies have identified GPIHBP1 as the molecule that transports LPL to the capillary lumen, and have also identified other molecules that are potentially important for regulating LPL activity. These new discoveries open new doors for understanding basic mechanisms of lipolysis and hyperlipidemia.
diabetes mellitus; gene regulation; lipoproteins; triglyceride metabolism
The main function of the nuclear lamina, an intermediate filament meshwork lying primarily beneath the inner nuclear membrane, is to provide structural scaffolding for the cell nucleus. However, the lamina also serves other functions, such as having a role in chromatin organization, connecting the nucleus to the cytoplasm, gene transcription, and mitosis. In somatic cells, the main protein constituents of the nuclear lamina are lamins A, C, B1, and B2. Interest in the nuclear lamins increased dramatically in recent years with the realization that mutations in LMNA, the gene encoding lamins A and C, cause a panoply of human diseases (“laminopathies”), including muscular dystrophy, cardiomyopathy, partial lipodystrophy, and progeroid syndromes. Here, we review the laminopathies and the long strange trip from basic cell biology to therapeutic approaches for these diseases.
A common strategy for conditional knockout alleles is to “flox” (flank with loxP sites) a 5′ exon within the target gene. Typically, the floxed exon does not contain a unit number of codons so that the Cre-mediated recombination event yields a frameshift and a null allele. Documenting recombination within the genomic DNA is often regarded as sufficient proof of a frameshift, and the analysis of transcripts is neglected. We evaluated a previously reported conditional knockout allele for the β-subunit of protein farnesyltransferase. The recombination event in that allele—the excision of exon 3—was predicted to yield a frameshift. However, following the excision of exon 3, exon 4 was skipped by the mRNA splicing machinery, and the predominant transcript from the mutant allele lacked exon 3 and exon 4 sequences. The “Δexon 3–4 transcript” does not contain a frameshift but rather is predicted to encode a protein with a short in-frame deletion. This represents a significant concern when studying an enzyme, since an enzyme with partial function could lead to erroneous conclusions. With thousands of new conditional knockout alleles under construction within mouse mutagenesis consortiums, the protein farnesyltransferase allele holds an important lesson—to characterize knockout alleles at both the DNA and RNA levels.
protein prenylation; farnesylation; prelamin A; HDJ-2; knockout mice
We show mice with a targeted deficiency in the gene encoding the lipogenic transcription factor SREBP-1a are resistant to endotoxic shock and systemic inflammatory response syndrome induced by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). When macrophages from the mutant mice were challenged with bacterial lipopolysaccharide they failed to activate lipogenesis as well as two hallmark inflammasome functions, activation of Caspase-1 and secretion of IL-1β. We show that SREBP-1a not only activates genes required for lipogenesis in macrophages but also the gene encoding Nlrp1a, which is a core inflammasome component. Thus, SREBP-1a links lipid metabolism to the innate immune response, which supports our hypothesis that SREBPs evolved to regulate cellular reactions to external challenges that range from nutrient limitation and hypoxia to toxins and pathogens.
SREBP-1a deficiency; Macrophage; Inflammasome; Nlrp1/Nalp1; lipogenesis
Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is a progeroid syndrome characterized by multiple aging-like disease phenotypes. We recently reported that a protein farnesyltransferase inhibitor (FTI) improved several disease phenotypes in mice with a HGPS mutation (LmnaHG/+). Here, we investigated the impact of an FTI on the survival of LmnaHG/+ mice. The FTI significantly improved the survival of both male and female LmnaHG/+ mice. Treatment with the FTI also improved body weight curves and reduced the number of spontaneous rib fractures. This study provides further evidence for a beneficial effect of an FTI in HGPS.
progeria; aging; protein farnesyltransferase inhibitor; knock-in mice
Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), a rare disease that results in what appears to be premature aging, is caused by the production of a mutant form of prelamin A known as progerin. Progerin retains a farnesyl lipid anchor at its carboxyl terminus, a modification that is thought to be important in disease pathogenesis. Inhibition of protein farnesylation improves the hallmark nuclear shape abnormalities in HGPS cells and ameliorates disease phenotypes in mice harboring a knockin HGPS mutation (LmnaHG/+). The amelioration of disease, however, is incomplete, leading us to hypothesize that nonfarnesylated progerin also might be capable of eliciting disease. To test this hypothesis, we created knockin mice expressing nonfarnesylated progerin (LmnanHG/+). LmnanHG/+ mice developed the same disease phenotypes observed in LmnaHG/+ mice, although the phenotypes were milder, and mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) derived from these mice contained fewer misshapen nuclei. The steady-state levels of progerin in LmnanHG/+ MEFs and tissues were lower, suggesting a possible explanation for the milder phenotypes. These data support the concept that inhibition of protein farnesylation in progeria could be therapeutically useful but also suggest that this approach may be limited, as progerin elicits disease phenotypes whether or not it is farnesylated.
We previously showed that the progression of atherosclerosis in the Reversa mouse (Ldlr−/−Apob100/100Mttpfl/flMx1Cre+/+) was arrested when the hyperlipidemia was normalized by inactivating the gene for microsomal triglyceride transfer protein. Here we tested whether atherosclerosis would regress if the lipid levels were reduced after advanced plaques formed.
Methods and Results
Reversa mice were fed an atherogenic diet for 16 weeks. Plasma lipid levels were then reduced. Within 2 weeks, this reduction led to decreased monocyte-derived (CD68+) cells in atherosclerotic plaques and was associated with emigration of these cells out of plaques. Also, the fall in lipid levels was accompanied by lower plaque lipid content and by reduced expression in plaque CD68+ cells of inflammatory genes and higher expression of genes for markers of anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages. Plaque composition was affected more than plaque size, with the decreased content of lipid and CD68+ cells balanced by a higher content of collagen. When a reduced lipid levels was combined with the administration of pioglitazone to simulate the clinical aggressive lipid management and PPARγ agonist treatment, the rate of depletion of plaque CD68+ cells was unaffected, but there was a further increase in their expression of anti-inflammatory macrophage markers.
The Reversa mouse model is a new model of atherosclerosis regression. After lipid lowering favorable changes in plaque composition were independent of changes in size. In addition, plaque CD68+ cells became less inflammatory, an effect enhanced by treatment with pioglitazone.
cholesterol; hypercholesterolemia; apolipoproteins; lipoproteins; atherosclerosis
Lamin B1 is essential for neuronal migration and progenitor proliferation during the development of the cerebral cortex. The observation of distinct phenotypes of Lmnb1- and Lmnb2-knockout mice and the differences in the nuclear morphology of cortical neurons in vivo suggest that lamin B1 and lamin B2 play distinct functions in the developing brain.
Neuronal migration is essential for the development of the mammalian brain. Here, we document severe defects in neuronal migration and reduced numbers of neurons in lamin B1–deficient mice. Lamin B1 deficiency resulted in striking abnormalities in the nuclear shape of cortical neurons; many neurons contained a solitary nuclear bleb and exhibited an asymmetric distribution of lamin B2. In contrast, lamin B2 deficiency led to increased numbers of neurons with elongated nuclei. We used conditional alleles for Lmnb1 and Lmnb2 to create forebrain-specific knockout mice. The forebrain-specific Lmnb1- and Lmnb2-knockout models had a small forebrain with disorganized layering of neurons and nuclear shape abnormalities, similar to abnormalities identified in the conventional knockout mice. A more severe phenotype, complete atrophy of the cortex, was observed in forebrain-specific Lmnb1/Lmnb2 double-knockout mice. This study demonstrates that both lamin B1 and lamin B2 are essential for brain development, with lamin B1 being required for the integrity of the nuclear lamina, and lamin B2 being important for resistance to nuclear elongation in neurons.
Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is caused by a mutant prelamin A, progerin, that terminates with a farnesylcysteine. HGPS knock-in mice (LmnaHG/+) develop severe progeria-like disease phenotypes. These phenotypes can be ameliorated with a protein farnesyltransferase inhibitor (FTI), suggesting that progerin's farnesyl lipid is important for disease pathogenesis and raising the possibility that FTIs could be useful for treating humans with HGPS. Subsequent studies showed that mice expressing non-farnesylated progerin (LmnanHG/+ mice, in which progerin's carboxyl-terminal –CSIM motif was changed to –SSIM) also develop severe progeria, raising doubts about whether any treatment targeting protein prenylation would be particularly effective. We suspected that those doubts might be premature and hypothesized that the persistent disease in LmnanHG/+ mice could be an unanticipated consequence of the cysteine-to-serine substitution that was used to eliminate farnesylation. To test this hypothesis, we generated a second knock-in allele yielding non-farnesylated progerin (LmnacsmHG) in which the carboxyl-terminal –CSIM motif was changed to –CSM. We then compared disease phenotypes in mice harboring the LmnanHG or LmnacsmHG allele. As expected, LmnanHG/+ and LmnanHG/nHG mice developed severe progeria-like disease phenotypes, including osteolytic lesions and rib fractures, osteoporosis, slow growth and reduced survival. In contrast, LmnacsmHG/+ and LmnacsmHG/csmHG mice exhibited no bone disease and displayed entirely normal body weights and survival. The frequencies of misshapen cell nuclei were lower in LmnacsmHG/+ and LmnacsmHG/csmHG fibroblasts. These studies show that the ability of non-farnesylated progerin to elicit disease depends on the carboxyl-terminal mutation used to eliminate protein prenylation.
GPIHBP1, a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored Ly6 protein of capillary endothelial cells, binds lipoprotein lipase (LPL) avidly, but its ability to bind related lipase family members has never been evaluated. We sought to define the ability of GPIHBP1 to bind other lipase family members as well as other apolipoproteins and lipoproteins.
Methods and Results
As judged by cell-based and cell-free binding assays, LPL binds to GPIHBP1 but other members of the lipase family do not. We also examined the binding of apoAV–phospholipid disks to GPIHBP1. ApoAV binds avidly to GPIHBP1-transfected cells; this binding requires GPIHBP1’s amino-terminal acidic domain and is independent of its cysteine-rich Ly6 domain (the latter domain is essential for LPL binding). GPIHBP1-transfected cells did not bind HDL. Chylomicrons binds avidly to GPIHBP1-transfected CHO cells, but this binding is dependent on GPIHBP1’s ability to bind LPL within the cell culture medium.
GPIHBP1 binds LPL but does not bind other lipase family members. GPIHBP1 binds apoAV but did not bind apoAI or HDL. The ability of GPIHBP1-transfected CHO cells to bind chylomicrons is mediated by LPL; chylomicron binding does not occur unless GPIHBP1 first captures LPL from the cell culture medium.
lipoprotein lipase; chylomicronemia; hypertriglyceridemia; GPIHBP1
Apolipoprotein A-V (apoA-V), a minor protein associated with lipoproteins, has a major effect on triacylglycerol (TG) metabolism. We investigated whether apoA-V complexed with phospholipid in the form of a reconstituted HDL (rHDL) has potential utility as a therapeutic agent for treatment of hypertriglyceridemia when delivered intravenously.
Methods and Results
Intravenous injection studies were performed in genetically engineered mouse models of severe hypertriglyceridemia including apoav-/- and gpihbp1-/- mice. Administration of apoA-V rHDL to hypertriglyceridemic apoav−/− mice resulted in a 60% reduction in plasma TG concentration after 4 h. This decline can be attributed to enhanced catabolism/clearance of VLDL where VLDL TG and cholesterol were reduced ∼60%. ApoA-V which associated with VLDL after injection was also rapidly cleared. Site-specific mutations in the heparin-binding region of apoA-V (amino acids 186-227) attenuated apoA-V rHDL TG-lowering activity by 50% suggesting this sequence element is required for optimal TG-lowering activity in vivo. Unlike apoav-/- mice, injection of apoA-V rHDL into gpihbp1-/- mice had no effect on plasma TG levels and apoA-V remained associated with plasma VLDL.
Intravenously injected apoA-V rHDL significantly lowers plasma TG in an apoA-V deficient mouse model. Its intravenous administration may have therapeutic benefit in human subjects with severe HTG, especially in cases involving apoA-V variants associated with HTG.
apoav-/- mice; gpihbp1-/- mice; very low density lipoproteins; apoA-V heparin binding mutant; lipoprotein lipase
Adult GPIHBP1-deficient mice (Gpihbp1−/−) have severe hypertriglyceridemia; however, the plasma triglyceride levels are only mildly elevated during the suckling phase when lipoprotein lipase (Lpl) is expressed at high levels in the liver. Lpl expression in the liver can be induced in adult mice with dietary cholesterol. We therefore hypothesized that plasma triglyceride levels in adult Gpihbp1−/− mice would be sensitive to cholesterol intake.
Methods and Results
After 4–8 weeks on a western diet containing 0.15% cholesterol, plasma triglyceride levels in Gpihbp1−/− mice were 10,000–12,000 mg/dl. When 0.005% ezetimibe was added to the diet to block cholesterol absorption, Lpl expression in the liver was reduced significantly, and the plasma triglyceride levels were significantly higher (>15,000 mg/dl). We also assessed plasma triglyceride levels in Gpihbp1−/− mice fed western diets containing either high (1.3%) or low (0.05%) amounts of cholesterol. The high-cholesterol diet significantly increased Lpl expression in the liver and lowered plasma triglyceride levels.
Treatment of Gpihbp1−/− mice with ezetimibe lowers Lpl expression in the liver and increases plasma triglyceride levels. A high-cholesterol diet had the opposite effects. Thus, cholesterol intake modulates plasma triglyceride levels in Gpihbp1−/− mice.
lipoprotein lipase; chylomicronemia; hypertriglyceridemia; GPIHBP1
In analyzing the sequence tags for mutant mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell lines in BayGenomics (a mouse gene-trapping resource), we identified a novel gene, Agpat6, with sequence similarities to previously characterized glycerolipid acyltransferases. Agpat6’s closest family member is another novel gene that we have provisionally designated Agpat8. Both Agpat6 and Agpat8 are conserved from plants, nematodes, and flies to mammals. AGPAT6, which is predicted to contain multiple membrane-spanning helices, is found exclusively within the endoplasmic reticulum in mammalian cells. To gain insights into the in vivo importance of Agpat6, we used the Agpat6 ES cell line from BayGenomics to create Agpat6-deficient (Agpat6−/−) mice. Agpat6−/− mice lacked full-length Agpat6 transcripts, as judged by northern blots. One of the most striking phenotypes of Agpat6−/− mice was a defect in lactation. Pups nursed by Agpat6−/− mothers die perinatally. Normally, Agpat6 is expressed at high levels in the mammary epithelium of breast tissue, but not in the surrounding adipose tissue. Histological studies revealed that the aveoli and ducts of Agpat6−/− lactating mammary glands were underdeveloped, and there was a dramatic decrease in size and number of lipid droplets within mammary epithelial cells and ducts. Also, the milk from Agpat6−/− mice was markedly depleted in diacylglycerols and triacylglycerols. Thus, we identified a novel glycerolipid acyltransferase of the endoplasmic reticulum, AGPAT6, which is crucial for the production of milk fat by the mammary gland.
LPAAT; acyltransferase; transacylase; milk fat
A deficiency in microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP) causes the human lipoprotein deficiency syndrome abetalipoproteinemia. However, the role of MTP in the assembly and secretion of VLDL in the liver is not precisely understood. It is not clear, for instance, whether MTP is required to move the bulk of triglycerides into the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) during the assembly of VLDL particles. To define MTP’s role in hepatic lipoprotein assembly, we recently knocked out the mouse MTP gene (Mttp). Unfortunately, achieving our objective was thwarted by a lethal embryonic phenotype. In this study, we produced mice harboring a “floxed” Mttp allele and then used Cre-mediated recombination to generate liver-specific Mttp knockout mice. Inactivating the Mttp gene in the liver caused a striking reduction in VLDL triglycerides and large reductions in both VLDL/LDL and HDL cholesterol levels. The Mttp inactivation lowered apo B-100 levels in the plasma by >95% but reduced plasma apo B-48 levels by only ∼20%. Histologic studies in liver-specific knockout mice revealed moderate hepatic steatosis. Ultrastructural studies of wild-type mouse livers revealed numerous VLDL-sized lipid-staining particles within membrane-bound compartments of the secretory pathway (ER and Golgi apparatus) and few cytosolic lipid droplets. In contrast, VLDL-sized lipid-staining particles were not observed in MTP-deficient hepatocytes, either in the ER or in the Golgi apparatus, and there were numerous cytosolic fat droplets. We conclude that MTP is essential for transferring the bulk of triglycerides into the lumen of the ER for VLDL assembly and is required for the secretion of apo B-100 from the liver.
The lipolytic processing of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins by lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is the central event in plasma lipid metabolism, providing lipids for storage in adipose tissue and fuel for vital organs such as the heart. LPL is synthesized and secreted by myocytes and adipocytes but then finds its way into the lumen of capillaries, where it hydrolyzes lipoprotein triglycerides. The mechanism by which LPL reaches the lumen of capillaries represents one of the most persistent mysteries of plasma lipid metabolism. Here, we show that GPIHBP1 is responsible for the transport of LPL into capillaries. In Gpihbp1-deficient mice, LPL is mislocalized to the interstitial spaces surrounding myocytes and adipocytes. Also, we show that GPIHBP1 is located at the basolateral surface of capillary endothelial cells and actively transports LPL across endothelial cells. Our experiments define the function of GPIHBP1 in triglyceride metabolism and provide a mechanism for the transport of LPL into capillaries.
Lamin A is formed from prelamin A by four post-translational processing steps—farnesylation, release of the last three amino acids of the protein, methylation of the farnesylcysteine and the endoproteolytic release of the C-terminal 15 amino acids (including the farnesylcysteine methyl ester). When the final processing step does not occur, a farnesylated and methylated prelamin A accumulates in cells, causing a severe progeroid disease, restrictive dermopathy (RD). Whether RD is caused by the retention of farnesyl lipid on prelamin A, or by the retention of the last 15 amino acids of the protein, is unknown. To address this issue, we created knock-in mice harboring a mutant Lmna allele (LmnanPLAO) that yields exclusively non-farnesylated prelamin A (and no lamin C). These mice had no evidence of progeria but succumbed to cardiomyopathy. We suspected that the non-farnesylated prelamin A in the tissues of these mice would be strikingly mislocalized to the nucleoplasm, but this was not the case; most was at the nuclear rim (indistinguishable from the lamin A in wild-type mice). The cardiomyopathy could not be ascribed to an absence of lamin C because mice expressing an otherwise identical knock-in allele yielding only wild-type prelamin A appeared normal. We conclude that lamin C synthesis is dispensable in mice and that the failure to convert prelamin A to mature lamin A causes cardiomyopathy (at least in the absence of lamin C). The latter finding is potentially relevant to the long-term use of protein farnesyltransferase inhibitors, which lead to an accumulation of non-farnesylated prelamin A.
Previously, we identified the E3 ubiquitin ligase Idol (inducible degrader of the low-density lipoprotein [LDL] receptor [LDLR]) as a posttranscriptional regulator of the LDLR pathway. Idol stimulates LDLR degradation through ubiquitination of its C-terminal domain, thereby limiting cholesterol uptake. Here we report the generation and characterization of mouse embryonic stem cells homozygous for a null mutation in the Idol gene. Cells lacking Idol exhibit markedly elevated levels of the LDLR protein and increased rates of LDL uptake. Furthermore, despite an intact sterol responsive element-binding protein (SREBP) pathway, Idol-null cells exhibit an altered response to multiple regulators of sterol metabolism, including serum, oxysterols, and synthetic liver X receptor (LXR) agonists. The ability of oxysterols and lipoprotein-containing serum to suppress LDLR protein levels is reduced, and the time course of suppression is delayed, in cells lacking Idol. LXR ligands have no effect on LDLR levels in Idol-null cells, indicating that Idol is required for LXR-dependent inhibition of the LDLR pathway. In line with these results, the half-life of the LDLR protein is prolonged in the absence of Idol. Finally, the ability of statins and PCSK9 to alter LDLR levels is independent of, and additive with, the LXR-Idol pathway. These results demonstrate that the LXR-Idol pathway is an important contributor to feedback inhibition of the LDLR by sterols and a biological determinant of cellular LDL uptake.
The modification of proteins with farnesyl or geranylgeranyl lipids, a process called protein prenylation, facilitates interactions of proteins with membrane surfaces. Protein prenylation is carried out by a pair of cytosolic enzymes, protein farnesyltransferase (FTase) and protein geranylgeranyltransferase type I (GGTase-I). FTase and GGTase-I have attracted interest as therapeutic targets for both cancer and progeria, but very little information exists on the importance of these enzymes for homeostasis of normal tissues. One study actually suggested that FTase is entirely dispensable. To explore the importance of the protein prenyltransferases for normal tissues, we used conditional knockout alleles for Fntb and Pggt1b (which encode the β-subunits of FTase and GGTase-I, respectively) and a keratin 14–Cre transgene to create mice lacking FTase or GGTase-I in skin keratinocytes. Keratinocyte-specific Fntb knockout mice were viable but developed severe alopecia. Although hair follicles appeared normal during development, they were morphologically abnormal after birth, and ultrastructural and immunohistochemical studies revealed many apoptotic cells. The interfollicular epidermis of Fntb-deficient mice appeared normal; however, keratinocytes from these mice could not proliferate in culture. As expected, non-farnesylated prelamin A and non-farnesylated DNAJA1 accumulated in Fntb-deficient keratinocytes. Keratinocyte-specific Pggt1b knockout mice survived development but died shortly after birth. Like Fntb-deficient keratinocytes, Pggt1b-deficient keratinocytes did not proliferate in culture. Thus, both FTase and GGTase-I are required for the homeostasis of skin keratinocytes.
Choline kinase α (CK-α) is one of two mammalian enzymes that catalyze the phosphorylation of choline to phosphocholine in the biosynthesis of the major membrane phospholipid, phosphatidylcholine. We created mice lacking CK-α with an embryonic stem cell line containing an insertional mutation in the gene for CK-α (Chka). Embryos homozygous for the mutant Chka allele were recovered at the blastocyst stage, but not at embryonic day 7.5, indicating that CK-α is crucial for the early development of mouse embryos. Heterozygous mutant mice (Chka+/−) appeared entirely normal in their embryonic development and gross anatomy, and they were fertile. Although choline kinase activity was decreased by ~30%, the amount of phosphatidylcholine in cells and the levels of other enzymes involved in phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis were unaffected. Phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis measured by choline incorporation into hepatocytes was also not compromised in Chka+/− mice. Enhanced levels of choline and attenuated levels of phosphocholine were observed in both the livers and testes of Chka+/− mice. Triacylglycerol and cholesterol ester were elevated ~2-fold in the livers, whereas neutral lipid profiles in plasma were similar in Chka+/− and wild-type (Chka+/+) mice. Thus, Chka is an essential gene for early embryonic development, but adult mice do not require full expression of the gene for normal levels of phosphatidylcholine.