Structural snapshot of the cholesterol-transport ATP-binding cassette proteins

Bala M. Xavier, William J. Jennings, Aiman A. Zein, Junmei Wang, Jyh Yeuan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The ATP-binding cassette (ABC) proteins play critical roles in maintaining lipid and sterol homeostasis in higher eukaryotes. In humans, several subfamily-A and-G members function as cholesterol transporters across the cellular membranes. Deficiencies of these ABC proteins can cause dyslipidemia that is associated with health conditions such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and neurodegeneration. The physiological roles of ABC cholesterol transporters have been implicated in mediating cholesterol efflux for reverse cholesterol transport and in maintaining membrane integrity for cell survival. The precise role of these ABC transporters in cells remains elusive, and little is known about the sterol-transport mechanism. The membrane constituents of ABC transporters have been postulated to play a key role in determining the transport substrates and the translocation mechanisms via the transmembrane domains. Recent breakthroughs in determining high-resolution structures of the human sterol transporter ABCG5/G8 and its functional homologs have shed light on new structural features of ABC transporters, providing a more relevant framework for mechanistic analysis of cholesterol-transport ABC proteins. This minireview outlines what is known about ABCG cholesterol transporters, addresses key structural features in the putative sterol translocation pathway on the transmembrane domains, and concludes by proposing a mechanistic model of ABC cholesterol transporters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-233
Number of pages10
JournalBiochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • ABCG transporter
  • ATP-binding cassette
  • Cardiometabolic disease
  • Cholesterol efflux
  • Transmembrane domain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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