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Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 1999;34(2):123-40.

Lanosterol analogs: dual-action inhibitors of cholesterol biosynthesis.


Drugs which suppress hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis are important therapeutic tools for lowering serum cholesterol, a major risk factor in coronary heart disease. With the goal of developing molecules that will effectively shut down cholesterol biosynthesis in hepatic tissue but allow for the buildup of the isoprenes needed for the biosynthesis of polyisoprenes other than sterols, we have designed and evaluated a series of lanosterol analogs to act as dual-action inhibitors of cholesterol biosynthesis. These sterols were predicted to act as competitive inhibitors of lanosterol 14alpha-methyl demethylase (P-450DM) and as partial suppressors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGR), the rate-limiting enzyme in the pathway. Compounds which have been identified as dual-action inhibitors of cholesterol biosynthesis include analogs of the intermediates generated during the removal of the 14alpha-methyl group of lanosterol by P-450DM, aminolanosterols with the amine nitrogen placed in the vicinity of C-32, and lanosterol analogs with a ketone or oxime functionality at C-15. While some dual-action inhibitors require an active P-450DM for suppression of HMGR activity, others do not. The inability of some compounds to suppress HMGR activity in cells which lack P-450DM activity suggests either that these compounds require P-450DM for conversion to an active metabolite which then suppresses HMGR activity, or that they cause the accumulation of the natural demethylation intermediates resulting in the suppression of HMGR activity. Lanosterol analogs, in contrast to 25-hydroxycholesterol, do not inhibit transcription of the HMGR gene. Rather, they inhibit translation of the HMGR mRNA, and in most cases also accelerate the degradation of enzyme protein. The potential pharmacological utility of cholesterol biosynthesis inhibitors may be determined at least in part by their effects on LDL receptor (LDLR) activity. The transcriptional regulator 25-hydroxycholesterol suppresses both HMGR and LDLR activities, while the post-transcriptional regulatory lanosterol analogs exhibit a more desirable profile, lowering HMGR levels without suppressing LDLR expression, and in some cases actually enhancing cellular LDL metabolism. Lanosterol analogs which function as dual-action inhibitors of cholesterol biosynthesis promise to be useful not only as tools for dissecting the cellular regulation of cholesterol metabolism, but also as models for the development of safe, effective hypocholesterolemic agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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