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J Biol Chem. 1999 Aug 13;274(33):23276-85.

Human acyl-CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase-1 in the endoplasmic reticulum contains seven transmembrane domains.

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


Acyl-CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT) plays important roles in cellular cholesterol homeostasis and is involved in atherosclerosis. ACAT-1 protein is located mainly in the ER. The hydropathy plot suggests that ACAT-1 protein contains multiple transmembrane segments. We inserted either the hemagglutinin tag or the HisT7 tag at various hydrophilic regions within the human ACAT-1 protein and used immunofluorescence microscopy to determine the topography of the tagged proteins expressed in mutant Chinese hamster ovary cells lacking endogenous ACAT. All of the tagged proteins are located mainly in the ER and retain full or partial enzyme activities. None of the tagged proteins produces detectable intracellular degradation intermediates. Treating cells with digitonin at 5 micrograms/ml permeabilizes the plasma membranes while leaving the ER membranes sealed; in contrast, treating cells with 0.25% Triton X-100 or with cold methanol permeabilizes both the plasma membranes and the ER membranes. After appropriate permeabilization, double immunostaining using antibodies against the N-terminal region and against the inserted tag were used to visualize various regions of the tagged protein. The results show that human ACAT-1 in the ER contains seven transmembrane domains.

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