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Trends Cell Biol. 2010 Nov;20(11):680-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2010.08.007. Epub 2010 Sep 16.

Cell cholesterol homeostasis: mediation by active cholesterol.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


Recent evidence suggests that the major pathways mediating cell cholesterol homeostasis respond to a common signal: active membrane cholesterol. Active cholesterol is the fraction that exceeds the complexing capacity of the polar bilayer lipids. Increments in plasma membrane cholesterol exceeding this threshold have an elevated chemical activity (escape tendency) and redistribute via diverse transport proteins to both circulating plasma lipoproteins and intracellular organelles. Active cholesterol thereby prompts several feedback responses. It is the substrate for its own esterification and for the synthesis of regulatory side-chain oxysterols. It also stimulates manifold pathways that down-regulate the biosynthesis, curtail the ingestion and increase the export of cholesterol. Thus, the abundance of cell cholesterol is tightly coupled to that of its polar lipid partners through active cholesterol.

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