Using fluorescent and non-fluorescent Sterols to Study Rafts and Intracellular Cholesterol Transport in Mammalian Cells

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Title: Using fluorescent and non-fluorescent Sterols to Study Rafts and Intracellular Cholesterol Transport in Mammalian Cells
Author: Jansen, Maurice A.J.
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, lääketieteellinen tiedekunta, biolääketieteen laitos
Helsingfors universitet, medicinska fakulteten, biomedicinska institutionen
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Biomedicine
Date: 2011-01-28
Language: en
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (article-based)
Abstract: Cholesterol is an essential component in the membranes of most eukaryotic cells, in which it mediates many functions including membrane fluidity, permeability and the formation of ordered membrane domains. In this work a fluorescent and a non-fluorescent cholesterol analog were characterized as tools to study cholesterol. Next, these analogs were used to study two specific cell biological processes that involve cholesterol, i.e. the structure and function of ordered membrane domains/rafts and intracellular cholesterol transport. The most common method for studying ordered membrane domains is by disrupting them by cholesterol depletion. Because cholesterol depletion affects many cellular functions besides those mediated by membrane domains, this procedure is highly unspecific. The cellular exchange of cholesterol by desmosterol as a tool to study ordered membrane domains was characterized. It turned out that the ability of desmosterol to form and stabilize membrane domains in vitro was weaker compared to cholesterol. This result was reinforced by atomistic scale simulations that indicated that desmosterol has a lower ordering effect on phospholipid acyl chains. Three procedures were established for exchanging cellular cholesterol by desmosterol. In cells in which desmosterol was the main sterol, insulin signaling was attenuated. The results suggest that this was caused by desmosterol destabilizing membrane rafts. Contrary to its effect on ordered membrane domains it was found that replacing cholesterol by desmosterol does not change cell growth/viability, subcellular sterol distribution, Golgi integrity, secretory pathway, phospholipid composition and membrane fluidity. Together these results suggest that exchanging cellular cholesterol by desmosterol provides a selective tool for perturbing rafts. Next, the importance of cholesterol for the structure and function of caveolae was analyzed by exchanging the cellular cholesterol by desmosterol. The sterol exchange reduced the stability of caveolae as determined by detergent resistance of caveolin-1 and heat resistance of caveolin-1 oligomers. Also the sterol exchange led to aberrations in the caveolar structure; the morphology of caveolae was altered and there was a larger variation in the amount of caveolin-1 molecules per caveola. These results demonstrate that cholesterol is important for caveolar stability and structural homogeneity. In the second part of this work a fluorescent cholesterol analog was characterized as a tool to study cholesterol transport. Tight control of the intracellular cholesterol distribution is essential for many cellular processes. An important mechanism by which cells regulate their membrane cholesterol content is by cholesterol traffic, mostly from the plasma membrane to lipid droplets. The fluorescent sterol probe BODIPY-cholesterol was characterized as a tool to analyze cholesterol transport between the plasma membrane, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and lipid droplets. The behavior of BODIPY-cholesterol was compared to that of natural sterols, using both biochemical and live-cell microcopy assays. The results show that the transport kinetics of BODIPY-cholesterol between the plasma membrane, the ER and lipid droplets is similar to that of unesterified cholesterol. Next, BODIPY-cholesterol was utilized to analyze the importance of oxysterol binding protein related proteins (ORPs) for cholesterol transport between the plasma membrane, the ER, and lipid droplets in mammalian cells. By overexpressing all human ORPs it turned out that especially ORP1S and ORP2 enhanced sterol transport from the plasma membrane to lipid droplets. Our results suggest that the increased sterol transport takes place between the plasma membrane and ER and not between the ER and lipid droplets. Simultaneous knockdown of ORP1S and ORP2 resulted in a moderate but significant inhibition of sterol traffic from the plasma membrane to ER and lipid droplets, suggesting a physiological role for these ORPs in this process. The two phenylalanines in an acidic tract (FFAT) motif in ORPs, which mediates interaction with vesicle associated membrane protein associated proteins (VAPs) in the ER, was not necessary for mediating sterol transport. However, VAP silencing slowed down sterol transport, most likely by destabilizing ORPs containing a FFAT motif.
Subject: solubiologia
Rights: Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty.

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