Zymosterol is located in the plasma membrane of cultured human fibroblasts

F. Echevarria, R. A. Norton, W. D. Nes, Y. Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Zymosterol (5α-cholesta-8(9),24-dien-3β-ol) comprised a negligible fraction of the mass of sterol in cultured human fibroblasts but was well labeled biosynthetically with radioactive acetate. Treatment of cells with triparanol, a potent inhibitor of sterol Δ24-reductase, led to a marked increase in labeled zymosterol while its mass rose to 1 mol % of total sterol. All of this sterol could be chased into cholesterol. Furthermore, cell homogenates converted exogenous radiolabeled zymosterol to cholesterol. Three lines of evidence suggested that biosynthetically labeled zymosterol was associated with the plasma membrane. 1) About 80% of radiolabeled zymosterol was oxidized by the impermeant enzyme, cholesterol oxidase, in glutaraldehyde-fixed intact cells. 2) Sucrose density gradient analysis of homogenates showed that the equilibrium buoyant density profile of newly synthesized zymosterol was identical with that of the plasma membrane. 3) Newly synthesized zymosterol was transferred as readily from fixed intact fibroblasts to exogenous acceptors as was cholesterol. Given that cholesterol is synthesized within the cell, it is unclear why most of the zymosterol is in the plasma membrane. The pathway of cholesterol biosynthesis may compel zymosterol to flux through the plasma membrane. Alternatively, plasma membrane zymosterol may represent a separate pool, in equilibrium with the zymosterol in the intracellularly biosynthetic pool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8484-8489
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1990


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