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Biochem Pharmacol. 2002 Feb 1;63(3):349-60.

Intracellular mechanisms mediating the inhibition of apoB-containing lipoprotein synthesis and secretion in HepG2 cells by avasimibe (CI-1011), a novel acyl-coenzyme A: cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT) inhibitor.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Biochemistry, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Ont., Canada.


We have studied the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the suppression of apoB secretion from HepG2 cells following incubation with avasimibe (CI-1011), a novel inhibitor of acyl-coenzyme A: cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT). Cellular lipid analysis revealed that avasimibe significantly decreased the synthesis of cholesterol and cholesteryl ester, and, at higher doses, of triglyceride. Time-course trypsin protection assays revealed that avasimibe induced the accumulation of translocationally arrested apoB intracellularly. Pulse-chase studies showed that the treatment with avasimibe induced a >75% decrease in apoB secretion relative to control, but initially enhanced the protein stability and cellular accumulation of apoB. Subcellular fractionation of microsomes further confirmed the accumulation of secretion-incompetent apoB-lipoproteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and Golgi compartments of avasimibe-treated HepG2 cells. Although incubation of drug-treated cells with carbobenzoxyl-leucinyl-leucinyl-leucinal (MG132), a potent proteasome inhibitor, increased cellular apoB (70%), it failed to increase apoB secretion. Drug treatment induced an accumulation of secretion-incompetent apoB-containing lipoprotein particles, the majority of which demonstrated a density in a range similar to that of high-density lipoprotein. However, studies in permeabilized cells demonstrated that, at longer chase times, intracellularly accumulated apoB was eventually degraded, indicating that the inhibition of degradation may be transient. Oleate treatment of avasimibe-treated cells partially restored apoB secretion but not to the levels seen in control cells. In summary, we hypothesize that avasimibe acutely blocks the secretion of apoB and its associated lipoproteins from HepG2 cells, transiently enhancing its membrane association and cellular accumulation with eventual intracellular degradation of accumulated apoB.

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