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J Biol Chem. 1993 Oct 5;268(28):20747-55.

Molecular cloning and functional expression of human acyl-coenzyme A:cholesterol acyltransferase cDNA in mutant Chinese hamster ovary cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755.


Accumulation of cholesterol esters as cytoplasmic lipid droplets within macrophages and smooth muscle cells is a characteristic feature of early lesions of atherosclerotic plaque. Intracellularly, an essential element in forming cholesterol ester from cholesterol is the enzyme acyl-coenzyme A:cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT). ACAT is a membrane protein located in the endoplasmic reticulum. The ACAT protein has never been purified to homogeneity, and no antibodies directed against ACAT have been reported. The gene(s) encoding this enzyme had not been isolated. This laboratory had previously reported the isolation of Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing human ACAT activity. From DNAs of these cells, we have cloned a 1.2-kb exonic human genomic DNA. This led to the eventual cloning of a 4-kb cDNA clone (K1) from a human macrophage cDNA library. Transfection of K1 in ACAT-deficient mutant Chinese hamster ovary cells complemented the mutant defect and resulted in the expression of human ACAT activity. K1 contained an open reading frame of 1650 bp encoding an integral membrane protein of 550 amino acids. Protein homology analysis showed that the predicted K1 protein shared homologous peptide sequences with other enzymes involved in the catalysis of acyl adenylate formation followed by acyl thioester formation and acyl transfer. These results indicate that K1 encodes a structural gene for ACAT. The cDNA reported here should facilitate future molecular studies on ACAT.

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