Demonstration of low density lipoprotein receptors in mouse teratocarcinoma stem cells and description of a method for producing receptor-deficient mutant mice

J. L. Goldstein, M. S. Brown, M. Krieger, R. G. Anderson, B. Mintz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Familial hypercholesterolemia, a widespread human genetic disorder implicated in vascular and coronary disease, has had no laboratory animal counterpart that would enable the pathogenesis to be analyzed and drugs to be tested in vivo. The primary lesion in some patients is known to occur in the cells' initial handling of the major cholesterol-carrying lipoprotein of plasma. It entails a deficiency in the specific cell surface receptor that binds low density lipoprotein (LDL), with a consequent alteration in the control of cholesterol metabolism. The present study was undertaken to devise a practical scheme for producing, from developmentally versatile mouse teratocarcinoma stem cells, whole-animal models with a comparable genetic lesion. This requires first learning whether the tumor stem cells in culture express LDL receptors, and next establishing a selection or screening procedure to identify receptor-deficient mutants in mutagenized cell cultures. The results show that the teratocarcinoma cells do in fact have specific high-affinity LDL receptors which are similar to those reported for fibroblasts and the parenchymal cells of specialyzed tissues and different from those of phagocytic cells. Sterols suppressed the otherwise efficient binding, internalization, and degradation of LDL ( 125I-labeled) by the cells. Acetylation of LDL blocked the binding. Only LDL and not high density lipoprotein (HDL) was bound. After LDL uptake and degradation, the liberated cholesterol led, as expected, to increased cholesteryl ester formation; it also suppressed activity of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase [HMG CoA reductase; mevalonate: NADP + oxidoreductase (CoA-acylating), EC], the rate-limiting step in cholesterol biosynthesis. Cells with LDL receptors were readily visualized by administering a fluorescent derivative of LDL; in the fluorescence microscope, labeling was seen in all cells. Cells with experimentally depressed receptors, yielding little fluorescence, were separable from those with normal fluorescence in the fluorescence-activated cell sorter. Thus, two methods for isolating receptor-deficient cells from mutagenized cultures are now available, either by visual recognition of low-fluorescing or nonfluorescing colonies in culture plates or by electronic cell sorting. Such mutants in an appropriate line of teratocarcinoma cells can then be passaged into blastocysts for full somatic tissue differentiation and germ-line development into mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2843-2847
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Demonstration of low density lipoprotein receptors in mouse teratocarcinoma stem cells and description of a method for producing receptor-deficient mutant mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this