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J Biol Chem. 1997 Apr 25;272(17):11575-80.

A two-site model for ApoB degradation in HepG2 cells.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Newly synthesized apolipoprotein B (apoB) undergoes rapid degradation in a pre-Golgi compartment in HepG2 cells. A major site of this early degradation seems to be on the cytosolic side of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane and is sensitive to N-acetyl-leucinyl-leucinyl-norleucinal (ALLN), which can inhibit neutral cysteine proteases and/or proteasome activity. Oleate (OA) treatment, which facilitates translocation of nascent apoB across the ER membrane, also reduces early degradation. In the present studies, we have used brefeldin A (BFA), which inhibits vesicular transport from the ER to the Golgi, to demonstrate that apoB can also be degraded by an ER luminal proteolytic activity that is distinct from the ALLN-sensitive proteases. Thus, when BFA-treated HepG2 cells were co-treated with ALLN, which protects apoB but does not facilitate its translocation into the ER lumen, degradation of newly synthesized apoB was significantly reduced compared with cells incubated with BFA alone. However, apoB degradation was rapid and complete when OA was added to media containing either BFA or ALLN/BFA. These results suggested that OA, by increasing translocation of nascent apoB into the ER lumen, exposed apoB to an ALLN-resistant proteolytic pathway. When we incubated HepG2 cells with dithiothreitol (DTT)/OA/BFA or DTT/OA/ALLN/BFA, degradation of apoB was inhibited. Furthermore, addition of DTT resulted in the accumulation of a 70-kDa amino-terminal fragment of apoB. Both full-length and amino-terminal apoB were degraded if DTT was removed from the incubation media; both were secreted if only BFA was removed. Thus, even after apoB is translocated into the ER lumen (thereby avoiding the initial proteolytic pathway), it can potentially be degraded by a lumenal proteolytic process that is ALLN-resistant but DTT-sensitive. The present results, together with previous studies, suggest that at least two distinct steps may be involved in the posttranslational degradation of apoB: 1) the first occurs while apoB is partially translocated and is ALLN-sensitive; and 2) the second occurs in the ER lumen and is DTT-sensitive. Finally, our results support the hypothesis that degradation of partially translocated apoB generates a 70-kDa amino-terminal fragment that is mainly degraded in the ER lumen by a DTT-sensitive pathway.

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