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J Biol Chem. 2000 Oct 20;275(42):33053-8.

Specific binding of ApoA-I, enhanced cholesterol efflux, and altered plasma membrane morphology in cells expressing ABC1.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Mutations of the ABC1 transporter have been identified as the defect in Tangier disease, characterized by low HDL and cholesterol ester accumulation in macrophages. A full-length mouse ABC1 cDNA was used to investigate the mechanisms of lipid efflux to apoA-I or HDL in transfected 293 cells. ABC1 expression markedly increased cellular cholesterol and phospholipid efflux to apoA-I but had only minor effects on lipid efflux to HDL. The increased lipid efflux appears to involve a direct interaction between apoA-I and ABC1, because ABC1 expression substantially increased apoA-I binding at the cell surface, and chemical cross-linking and immunoprecipitation analysis showed that apoA-I binds directly to ABC1. In contrast to scavenger receptor BI (SR-BI), another cell surface molecule capable of facilitating cholesterol efflux, ABC1 preferentially bound lipid-free apoA-I but not HDL. Immunofluorescence confocal microscopy showed that ABC1 is primarily localized on the cell surface. In the absence of apoA-I, cells overexpressing ABC1 displayed a distinctive morphology, characterized by plasma membrane protrusions and resembling echinocytes that form when there are excess lipids in the outer membrane hemileaflet. The studies provide evidence for a direct interaction between ABC1 and apoA-I, but not HDL, indicating that free apoA-I is the metabolic substrate for ABC1. Plasma membrane ABC1 may act as a phospholipid/cholesterol flippase, providing lipid to bound apoA-I, or to the outer membrane hemileaflet.

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