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Mol Biol Cell. 2012 Dec;23(23):4484-94. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E12-08-0631. Epub 2012 Oct 19.

Differential regulation of HMG-CoA reductase and Insig-1 by enzymes of the ubiquitin-proteasome system.

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Laboratory of Protein Dynamics and Signaling, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD 20712, USA.


The endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident enzyme 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase catalyzes the rate-limiting step in sterol production and is the therapeutic target of statins. Understanding HMG-CoA reductase regulation has tremendous implications for atherosclerosis. HMG-CoA reductase levels are regulated in response to sterols both transcriptionally, through a complex regulatory loop involving the ER Insig proteins, and posttranslationally, by Insig-dependent protein degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. The ubiquitin ligase (E3) gp78 has been implicated in the sterol-regulated degradation of HMG-CoA reductase and Insig-1 through ER-associated degradation (ERAD). More recently, a second ERAD E3, TRC8, has also been reported to play a role in the sterol-accelerated degradation of HMG-CoA reductase. We interrogated this network in gp78(-/-) mouse embryonic fibroblasts and also assessed two fibroblast cell lines using RNA interference. Although we consistently observe involvement of gp78 in Insig-1 degradation, we find no substantive evidence to support roles for either gp78 or TRC8 in the robust sterol-accelerated degradation of HMG-CoA reductase. We discuss factors that might lead to such discrepant findings. Our results suggest a need for additional studies before definitive mechanistic conclusions are drawn that might set the stage for development of drugs to manipulate gp78 function in metabolic disorders.

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