Quantitative role of LAL, NPC2, and NPC1 in lysosomal cholesterol processing defined by genetic and pharmacological manipulations

Charina M. Ramirez, Benny Liu, Amal Aqul, Anna M. Taylor, Joyce J. Repa, Stephen D. Turley, John M. Dietschy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Lipoprotein cholesterol taken up by cells is processed in the endosomal/lysosomal (E/L) compartment by the sequential action of lysosomal acid lipase (LAL), Niemann-Pick C2 (NPC2), and Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1). Inactivation of NPC2 in mouse caused sequestration of unesterified cholesterol (UC) and expanded the whole animal sterol pool from 2,305 to 4,337 mg/kg. However, this pool increased to 5,408 and 9,480 mg/kg, respectively, when NPC1 or LAL function was absent. The transport defect in mutants lacking NPC2 or NPC1, but not in those lacking LAL, was reversed by cyclodextrin (CD), and the ED 50 values for this reversal varied from ∼40 mg/kg in kidney to >20,000 mg/kg in brain in both groups. This reversal occurred only with a CD that could interact with UC. Further, a CD that could interact with, but not solubilize, UC still overcame the transport defect. These studies showed that processing and export of sterol from the late E/L compartment was quantitatively different in mice lacking LAL, NPC2, or NPC1 function. In both npc2 -/- and npc1 -/- mice, the transport defect was reversed by a CD that interacted with UC, likely at the membrane/bulk-water interface, allowing sterol to move rapidly to the export site of the E/L compartment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)688-698
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of lipid research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Cholesterol balance
  • Inflammation
  • Liver disease
  • Lysosomal acid lipase
  • Macrophage
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Niemann-Pick type C disease
  • Wolman disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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