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Curr Opin Lipidol. 1998 Apr;9(2):137-40.

Related membrane domains in proteins of sterol sensing and cell signaling provide a glimpse of treasures still buried within the dynamic realm of intracellular metabolic regulation.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California at Irvine 92697-3900, USA.


Recent discoveries in the regulation of cholesterol metabolism have documented a two step proteolytic pathway that regulates nuclear targeting of the sterol regulatory element binding proteins. Sterol regulatory element binding protein cleavage activating protein is a newly identified protein that modulates the proteolytic maturation of the sterol regulatory element binding proteins. It contains a domain that is quite similar in sequence to the membrane spanning region of the rate controlling enzyme of cholesterol biosynthesis, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase. The membrane domain of the reductase is involved in its post-translational regulation by cholesterol. The molecular defect in the intracellular cholesterol storage disease, Niemann-Pick type C, has also recently been identified. Surprisingly, the affected gene encodes a protein with similarity to the membrane domains that are conserved in 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl reductase and sterol regulatory element binding protein cleavage activating protein. Furthermore, the cell surface receptor for the sterol modified hedgehog morphogen, Patched, also contains a membrane domain with significant similarity to this putative sterol monitoring domain. These recent developments suggest a common mechanism for sensing intracellular sterol levels and cell signaling, which is based on the function of related membrane domains that are contained in key regulatory proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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