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Mol Cell Biol. 2004 Jan;24(1):1-13.

Disturbed cholesterol homeostasis in a peroxisome-deficient PEX2 knockout mouse model.

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Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California 92182, USA.


We evaluated the major pathways of cholesterol regulation in the peroxisome-deficient PEX2(-/-) mouse, a model for Zellweger syndrome. Zellweger syndrome is a lethal inherited disorder characterized by severe defects in peroxisome biogenesis and peroxisomal protein import. Compared with wild-type mice, PEX2(-/-) mice have decreased total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in plasma. Hepatic expression of the SREBP-2 gene is increased 2.5-fold in PEX2(-/-) mice and is associated with increased activities and increased protein and expression levels of SREBP-2-regulated cholesterol biosynthetic enzymes. However, the upregulated cholesterogenic enzymes appear to function with altered efficiency, associated with the loss of peroxisomal compartmentalization. The rate of cholesterol biosynthesis in 7- to 9-day-old PEX2(-/-) mice is markedly increased in most tissues, except in the brain and kidneys, where it is reduced. While the cholesterol content of most tissues is normal in PEX2(-/-) mice, in the knockout mouse liver it is decreased by 40% relative to that in control mice. The classic pathway of bile acid biosynthesis is downregulated in PEX2(-/-) mice. However, expression of CYP27A1, the rate-determining enzyme in the alternate pathway of bile acid synthesis, is upregulated threefold in the PEX2(-/-) mouse liver. The expression of hepatic ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters (ABCA1 and ABCG1) involved in cholesterol efflux is not affected in PEX2(-/-) mice. These data illustrate the diversity in cholesterol regulatory responses among different organs in postnatal peroxisome-deficient mice and demonstrate that peroxisomes are critical for maintaining cholesterol homeostasis in the neonatal mouse.

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