Genomic DNA encompassing the terminal exons of the gene for the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor was isolated from J.D., a patient with familial hypercholesterolemia whose receptor fails to cluster in coated pits. The DNA sequence revealed a substitution of a cysteine codon for a tyrosine codon at residue 807 in the cytoplasmic domain of the receptor. We reproduced this substitution through oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis of the normal human receptor cDNA. Upon transfection into receptor-deficient hamster cells, the cDNA specified a receptor that bound LDL normally, but entered the cell slowly. Electron microscopy showed that this receptor was distributed diffusely over the cell surface, whereas the receptor produced by the normal cDNA was concentrated in coated pits. These results support the hypothesis that cytoplasmic domains direct receptors to coated pits, thereby determining the high rate of receptor internalization in animal cells.
We report the synthesis of a probe that permits the visualization by electron microscopy of acidic organelles in intact cells. This probe, 3-(2,4-dinitroanilino)-3'-amino-N-methyldipropylamine (DAMP), is a basic congener of dinitrophenol that readily diffuses into intact cells. Its primary and tertiary amino groups (apparent pKa, 10.6) allow it to be concentrated in acidic organelles and to be retained there after fixation with aldehydes. The dinitroarene moiety of DAMP can then be localized with mouse monoclonal antibodies directed against dinitrophenol. The antibodies, in turn, can be visualized by light or electron microscopy by reaction with rabbit anti-mouse antibodies coupled to rhodamine or horseradish peroxidase, respectively. We have used these methods to show that DAMP concentrates in a variety of membrane-bound structures in cultured fibroblasts, including classic multivesicular bodies (resembling lysosomes), intermediate-sized vesicles with multiple shapes (resembling endosomes), and an abundant population of very small spherical vesicles. A small fraction of coated vesicles is labeled with DAMP. Labeling with DAMP does not occur when the pH gradient of fibroblasts is disrupted by the ionophore monensin or the weak base chloroquine. DAMP should be a useful probe for exploring the assembly, distribution, and function of acidic organelles by electron microscopy.
This paper describes a rapid two-step procedure for the purification of the low density lipoprotein receptor from bovine adrenal cortex membranes. After solubilization with nonionic detergents, the receptor adheres tightly to a DEAE-cellulose column at pH 6. Following elution from DEAE-cellulose, detergent is removed, leaving the receptor in a soluble form. The receptor is then subjected to affinity chromatography on low density lipoprotein coupled to Sepharose 4B. The receptor is eluted with suramin, a newly-found inhibitor of low density lipoprotein-receptor interactions. This procedure yields a single protein with a molecular weight of 164,000. The same protein is also isolated when the crude DEAE-cellulose fraction is applied to an immunoaffinity column containing a monoclonal antibody directed against the receptor. The 164,000-dalton receptor protein has an acidic isoelectric point of 4.6, which rises to 4.8 after extensive treatment with neuraminidase. The purified receptor retains all of the binding properties of the receptor of intact cells and crude membranes.
We here describe a mutant low density lipoprotein receptor gene that produces a shortened receptor protein lacking three domains: the region of clustered O-linked carbohydrates, the membrane-spanning region, and the cytoplasmic tail. The defect is attributable to a single nucleotide substitution that creates a premature termination codon at amino acid 660, eliminating 180 residues from the mature protein. The truncated protein retains only two domains: a complete ligand-binding region (residues 1-292) and a partial epidermal growth factor precursor homology region (residues 293-659). The termination codon occurs in the middle of a cysteine-rich sequence that is part of the epidermal growth factor precursor homology domain. The mutant protein is present in markedly reduced amounts and may be translated at a reduced rate. After synthesis, most of the receptor remains within the cell for several hours with its N-linked carbohydrate in an unprocessed endoglycosidase H-sensitive form. This finding suggests that the shortened receptor leaves the endoplasmic reticulum at an abnormally slow rate, which is likely attributable to abnormal folding of the truncated protein. The mutation creates a new restriction site for the enzyme HinfI, thus permitting diagnosis by Southern blotting of genomic DNA. Two copies of this mutant gene were present in each of four unrelated Arab patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (three from Lebanon and one from Syria). We believe that this mutation, hereafter referred to as the "Lebanese allele," is responsible for the extraordinarily high incidence of familial hypercholesterolemia in Lebanon.
The scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI), which is expressed in the liver and intestine, plays a critical role in cholesterol metabolism in rodents. While hepatic SR-BI expression controls high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol metabolism, intestinal SR-BI has been proposed to facilitate cholesterol absorption. To evaluate further the relevance of SR-BI in the enterohepatic circulation of cholesterol and bile salts, we studied biliary lipid secretion, hepatic sterol content and synthesis, bile acid metabolism, fecal neutral sterol excretion, and intestinal cholesterol absorption in SR-BI knockout mice. SR-BI deficiency selectively impaired biliary cholesterol secretion, without concomitant changes in either biliary bile acid or phospholipid secretion. Hepatic total and unesterified cholesterol contents were slightly increased in SR-BI-deficient mice, while sterol synthesis was not significantly changed. Bile acid pool size and composition, as well as fecal bile acid excretion, were not altered in SR-BI knockout mice. Intestinal cholesterol absorption was somewhat increased and fecal sterol excretion was slightly decreased in SR-BI knockout mice relative to controls. These findings establish the critical role of hepatic SR-BI expression in selectively controlling the utilization of HDL cholesterol for biliary secretion. In contrast, SR-BI expression is not essential for intestinal cholesterol absorption.
A 42-base pair sequence from the 5' flanking region of the low density lipoprotein receptor gene was shown previously to confer sensitivity to sterol-mediated repression when inserted into the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase promoter. This sequence contains two contiguous 16-base pair repeats, designated repeats 2 and 3, which differ from each other at four positions. In the current study we have analyzed separately the functions of repeats 2 and 3 by altering their sequences, inserting them into the -60 position of the thymidine kinase promoter, and introducing the hybrid promoters into hamster cells by transfection. These studies show that repeat 3 is a constitutive positive transcriptional element that acts in the absence or presence of sterols. Repeat 2 confers strong repression upon repeat 3 when sterols are present. In vitro DNase footprinting and gel retardation assays show that repeat 3, but not repeat 2, binds purified Sp1, a positive transcription factor. Mutants of repeat 3 that abolish transcriptional activity in vivo abolish Sp1 binding in vitro. We suggest that the low density lipoprotein receptor is regulated by a push-pull mechanism in which sterol-regulated binding of a protein to repeat 2 silences the activity of the adjacent Sp1-binding site in repeat 3.
A full length cDNA for human 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase, the membrane-bound glycoprotein that regulates cholesterol synthesis, was isolated from a human fetal adrenal cDNA library. The nucleotide sequence of this cDNA shows that the human reductase is 888 amino acids long and shares a high degree of homology with the hamster enzyme. The amino-terminal membrane-bound domain is the most conserved region between the two species (7 substitutions out of 339 amino acids). This region, which is predicted to span the endoplasmic reticulum membrane seven times, mediates accelerated degradation of reductase in the presence of sterols. The carboxyl-terminal catalytic domain is also highly conserved (22 substitutions out of 439 amino acids). However, the linker region between these two domains has diverged (32 substitutions out of 110 amino acids). Conservation of the structure of the membrane-bound domain in HMG-CoA reductase supports the hypothesis that sterol-regulated degradation is an important mechanism for suppression of reductase activity and for regulation of cholesterol metabolism in humans as well as in hamsters.
The LDL receptor, which mediates the cellular uptake of cholesterol, is subject to classic end-product repression when cholesterol accumulates in the cell. We here show that the sensitivity to end-product repression depends upon a 42 bp element in the 5'-flanking region of the human LDL receptor gene. This sequence, designated sterol regulatory element 42 (SRE 42), contains two 16 bp direct repeats that exhibit positive and negative transcriptional activities. Cells transfected with a fusion gene containing SRE 42 inserted into the promoter of the herpes simplex viral TK gene produced abundant mRNA when grown without sterols. When sterols were present, the mRNA was reduced by 57%-95%, depending on the number of copies of SRE in the fusion gene. These transfection data plus DNAase I footprinting experiments suggest a model of end-product repression in which the end product (sterols) opposes the action of a positive transcription factor that binds to a discrete promoter element.
The WHHL (Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic) rabbit has been proposed as an animal model for human familial hypercholesterolemia. Homozygous WHHL rabbits have marked increases in the plasma level of low density lipoprotein (LDL), removal of LDL from their plasma is delayed, and LDL receptors are absent from their cultured fibroblasts [Tanzawa, K., Shimada, Y., Kuroda, M., Tsujita, Y., Arai, M. & Watanabe, Y. (1980) FEBS Lett. 118, 81--84]. We here report that membranes from the liver and adrenal gland of WHHL rabbits lack high-affinity LDL receptors. In normal rabbit membranes, binding of LDL to this receptor required calcium and is inhibited by EDTA. The LDL receptor binds rabbit 125I-labeled beta-migrating very low density lipoprotein (beta-VLDL), which contains apoproteins B and E, as well as rabbit 125I-labeled LDL, which contains only apoprotein B. It does not bind high density lipoprotein or methyl-LDL. All of these properties are identical with those of the LDL receptor of cultured fibroblasts. We conclude that a deficiency of hepatic and adrenal LDL receptors contributes to the hypercholesterolemia of the WHHL rabbits.
A monoclonal antibody directed against 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl Coenzyme A reductase and a cDNA to reductase mRNA were used to study the subunit structure of the enzyme and the regulation of its mRNA in rat liver. Although the monoclonal antibody and the cDNA were made with materials from cultured hamster cells, the two reagents cross-reacted with reductase protein and mRNA from rat liver. By sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and immunoblotting with monoclonal antibody, the subunit molecular weight of rat liver reductase was 90,000. When the enzyme was solubilized from microsomes by freeze-thawing, the subunit molecular weight was reduced to 52,000-58,000, owing to proteolysis. This proteolysis was inhibited by EGTA and leupeptin. The cDNA probe for reductase, radiolabeled with 32P, hybridized to restriction fragments of genomic DNA from rat liver, as visualized by Southern blot analysis. In the livers of control rats, no reductase mRNA was detected when the 32P-cDNA was blot-hybridized to poly(A+) RNA. Hepatic reductase activity was increased 45-fold when rats were fed cholestyramine and mevinolin. Under these conditions, the amount of immunodetectable reductase protein rose by 33-fold, and the reductase mRNA became visible by blot hybridization as a band of approximately 4 kilobases in length. When the mevinolin/cholestyramine-treated rats were fed cholesterol, reductase activity and immunodetectable protein declined markedly and the reductase mRNA was reduced to barely detectable levels. We conclude that treatment with cholestyramine and mevinolin increases the amount of reductase protein in rat liver by elevating the amount of its mRNA and that cholesterol feeding to such induced rats lowers the amount of hepatic reductase protein by decreasing the level of its mRNA.
The crystalloid endoplasmic reticulum (ER) consists of hexagonally packed membrane tubules that contain 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMG CoA reductase), an intrinsic membrane protein that catalyses the rate-limiting step in cholesterol synthesis. The crystalloid ER appears in a clone of Chinese hamster ovary cells, designated UT-1, that contain high levels of HMG CoA reductase as a result of growth in the presence of compactin, a competitive inhibitor of the reductase. In the present studies, we have used ultrastructural morphometry to estimate that the crystalloid ER: (1) occupies about 15% of the volume of UT-1 cells; (2) contains 3.4-fold more membrane area than the plasma membrane; and (3) contains less than 700 subunits of HMG CoA reductase per micrometer2 of membrane surface. The crystalloid ER tubules contain 2000 intramembrane particles per micrometer2 with a mean diameter of 10.4 nm, as determined by freeze-fracture. The crystalloid ER membranes are low in cholesterol, as indicated by the small number of filipin-cholesterol complexes in freeze-fracture images after treatment with filipin. The addition of cholesterol or related sterols to UT-1 cells promoted a rapid and stepwise disappearance of the crystalloid ER. Initially, the crystalloid ER fragmented into randomly arranged vesicles and tubules. Subsequently, membrane-bound structures disappeared from the cell so that after incubation with cholesterol for 24-72 h, the cells appeared completely normal. We found no morphological evidence that autophagic vacuoles participate in the degradation. We conclude: (1) that the crystalloid ER is more extensive than necessary merely to support HMG CoA reductase; and (2) that upon exposure to cholesterol the crystalloid ER is degraded by a process that does not involve autophagy.
The amino acid sequences of the human low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor and the human precursor for epidermal growth factor (EGF) show 33 percent identity over a stretch of 400 residues. This region of homologous is encoded by eight contiguous exons in each respective gene. Of the nine introns that separate these exons, five are located in identical positions in the two protein sequences. This finding suggests that the homologous region may have resulted from a duplication of an ancestral gene and that the two genes evolved further by recruitment of exons from other genes, which provided the specific functional domains of the LDL receptor and the EGF precursor.
This report describes the features of developing atherosclerosis in the Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbit, an animal model of human familial hypercholesterolemia. Observations were made in 18 homozygous WHHL rabbits, aged 4 days to 15 months, fed standard rabbit chow; seven control New Zealand white rabbits fed a similar diet, and four New Zealand white rabbits fed rabbit chow containing 2% cholesterol and 10% corn oil for 2 weeks. The WHHL rabbits showed evidence of progressive disease of the aorta with accumulation of strongly birefringent lipid in intimal lesions, including fatty streaks, raised foam cell lesions, and plaques (atheromas), as well as in the media. As seen by electron microscopy, the cellular population of the intimal lesions consisted predominantly of smooth muscle cells with lipid deposits and lipid-laden foam cells. Lipid deposits occurred as cytoplasmic neutral lipid droplets and as multilamellar bodies. In addition to advanced atherosclerosis of the aorta, a 15-month-old WHHL rabbit also had focal coronary atherosclerosis and subcutaneous xanthomas. The New Zealand white rabbits fed a high cholesterol and fat diet for 2 weeks showed early intimal lipid accumulation in the aorta and prominent lipid accumulation in hepatocytes and macrophages of the liver and spleen. New Zealand white rabbits fed the standard rabbit chow had no abnormal lipid deposits. In contrast to the cholesterol-fed rabbits, WHHL rabbits had only mild lipid accumulation in other tissues. Thus, many similarities exist between atherosclerotic disease in the WHHL rabbit and in man. This study shows that the WHHL rabbit is a good model of familial hypercholesterolemia.
The crystalloid endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a specialized smooth ER of the compactin-resistant UT-1 cell, is composed of multiple membrane tubules packed together in a hexagonal pattern. This membrane contains large amounts of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG CoA) reductase, an integral membrane protein that enzymatically regulates endogenous cholesterol biosynthesis. Using morphological and immunocytochemical techniques, we have traced the sequence of events in the biogenesis of this ER when compactin-withdrawn UT-1 cells, which do not have a crystalloid ER, are incubated in the presence of compactin. After 15 h of incubation in the presence of compactin, many cells had profiles of ER cisternae that were juxtaposed to the nuclear envelope and studded with ribosomes on their outer membrane. Both the outer nuclear membrane and the ER membrane contained HMG CoA reductase; however, there was little or no detectable enzyme in rough ER that was free in the cytoplasm. With longer times of incubation in the presence of compactin, these cells had lamellar stacks of smooth ER next to the nuclear envelope that contained HMG CoA reductase. Coordinate with the appearance of the smooth ER, crystalloid ER appeared in the same cell. Often regions of continuity were found between the membrane of the smooth ER and the membrane of the crystalloid ER tubules. These studies suggest that HMG CoA reductase is synthesized along the outer nuclear membrane and in response to increased enzyme synthesis, a membrane emerges from the outer nuclear membrane as smooth ER cisternae, which then transforms into crystalloid ER tubules.
Through substitution mutagenesis we identified the promoter elements responsible for basal expression and sterol-mediated repression of transcription of the gene for 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase, a rate-controlling enzyme of cholesterol biosynthesis. Mutant promoters containing 277 base pairs (bp) of reductase 5' flanking sequence were inserted into recombinant plasmids upstream of the coding region for bacterial chloramphenicol acetyltransferase. The plasmids were transfected into hamster fibroblasts, and transcription was measured in the presence and absence of sterols. Mutations in three regions that are known to bind nuclear proteins markedly reduced transcription. Mutation of another protein-binding region of 20 bp in length did not reduce transcription, but it did abolish sterol-mediated repression, producing an operator constitutive phenotype. This mutation also abolished protein binding to the corresponding 20-bp region of DNA as determined by footprinting assays. When a DNA fragment containing these 20 bp was inserted into the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase promoter, sterol-mediated repression was observed. This sequence contains an octanucleotide that shows a 7/8-bp match with a previously identified regulatory sequence in repeat 2 of the low density lipoprotein receptor promoter, another sterol-repressible gene. We hypothesize that this octanucleotide, GTGGCGGTG, is the core binding site for a sterol-dependent protein that represses transcription.
3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG CoA) reductase is anchored to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane by a hydrophobic NH2-terminal domain that contains seven apparent membrane-spanning regions and a single N-linked carbohydrate chain. The catalytic domain, which includes the COOH-terminal two-thirds of the protein, extends into the cytoplasm. The enzyme is normally degraded with a rapid half-life (2 h), but when cells are depleted of cholesterol, its half-life is prolonged to 11 h. Addition of sterols accelerates degradation by fivefold. To explore the requirements for regulated degradation, we prepared expressible reductase cDNAs from which we either deleted two contiguous membrane-spanning regions (numbers 4 and 5) or abolished the single site for N-linked glycosylation. When expressed in hamster cells after transfection, both enzymes retained catalytic activity. The deletion-bearing enzyme continued to be degraded with a rapid half-life in the presence of sterols, but it no longer was stabilized when sterols were depleted. The glycosylation-minus enzyme was degraded at a normal rate and was stabilized normally by sterol deprivation. When cells were induced to overexpress the deletion-bearing enzyme, they did not incorporate it into neatly arranged crystalloid ER tubules, as occurred with the normal and carbohydrate-minus enzymes. Rather, the deletion-bearing enzyme was incorporated into hypertrophied but disordered sheets of ER membrane. We conclude that the carbohydrate component of HMG CoA reductase is not required for proper subcellular localization or regulated degradation. In contrast, the native structure of the transmembrane component is required to form a normal crystalloid ER and to allow the enzyme to undergo regulated degradation by sterols.
When the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor was solubilized from bovine adrenal cortex membranes and subjected to electrophoresis in the absence of reducing agents, a disulfide-bonded dimeric species was demonstrated. Formation of these covalent bonds was blocked when the tissue was homogenized in the presence of sulfhydryl alkylating agents, indicating that the native receptor was self-associated noncovalently and that the disulfide bond formation occurred only after homogenization. The disulfide-linked dimers were disrupted and the receptor was restored to a monomeric form when inside-out adrenal vesicles were treated with trypsin, suggesting that the disulfide bond formation involved the 50-amino acid cytoplasmic domain of the receptor. When the receptor was solubilized from bovine adrenal cortex membranes and then purified by ion exchange and affinity chromatography, it could be covalently coupled into dimers and trimers in the presence of bivalent cross-linking agents. Receptor dimers could also be demonstrated by chemical cross-linking of intact cells that were transfected with an expressible cDNA encoding the normal human LDL receptor. Dimer formation was markedly reduced in transfected cells expressing mutated cDNAs that had premature termination codons at positions 792, 807, and 812, which produced shortened receptors that retained 2, 17, and 22 of the original 50 amino acids of the cytoplasmic domain, respectively. The first two mutant receptors, which did not form oligomers, did not enter coated pits and were not rapidly internalized by cells. However, the mutant receptor that terminates at position 812 was internalized normally even though oligomer formation was greatly reduced. Moreover, a mutant receptor with a cysteine substituted for a tyrosine at position 807, which internalized very slowly, showed a normal susceptibility to chemical cross-linking. Deletion of external domains of the LDL receptor, including the epidermal growth factor homology region and the O-linked sugar domain, did not alter susceptibility to chemical cross-linking. We conclude that the cytoplasmic domain of the LDL receptor is responsible both for self-association into oligomers and for clustering in coated pits, but the available data do not establish a causal connection between these two events.
Human epithelioid carcinoma A-431 cells are known to express unusually large numbers of receptors for the polypeptide hormone epidermal growth factor. The current studies demonstrate that this cell line also expresses 5- to 10-fold more low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors per cell than either human fibroblasts or Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. As visualized with an LDL-ferritin conjugate, the LDL receptors in A-431 cells appeared in clusters that were distributed uniformly over the cell surface, occurring over flat regions of the membrane as well as over the abundant surface extensions. Only 4% of the LDL receptors were located in coated pits. The LDL receptors in A-431 cells showed the same affinity and specificity as the LDL receptors in human fibroblasts and other cell types. In addition, they were subject to feedback regulation by sterols in the same manner as the LDL receptors in other cells. However, in contrast to other cell types in which the receptor-bound LDL is internalized with high efficiency, in the A-431 cells only a small fraction of the receptor-bound LDL entered the cell. In CHO cells approximately 66% of the LDL receptors were located over coated regions of membrane, and the efficiency of LDL internalization was correspondingly 10-fold higher than in A-431 cells. These findings support the concept that the rate of LDL internalization is proportional to the number of LDL receptors in coated pits and that the inefficiency of internalization in the A-431 cells is caused by a limitation in the ability of these cells to incorporate their LDL receptors into coated pits.
Elevated plasma concentrations of lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] are associated with coronary atherosclerosis in Caucasians. Although African-Americans have a higher median plasma Lp(a) concentration than Caucasians, they do not have a greater incidence of coronary atherosclerosis. This study was performed to determine whether the plasma concentration of Lp(a) is associated with coronary atherosclerosis in African-Americans. The fasting plasma concentrations of Lp(a) and lipoproteins were measured in 140 African-American subjects (62 men, 78 women, aged 31 to 80 years) 18 +/- 16 months (mean +/- SD) after they underwent coronary angiography: 72 had angiographically normal coronary arteries and 68 had > 70% luminal diameter narrowing of one or more major epicardial coronary arteries. The groups were similar in age, sex, and other risk factors for atherosclerosis. The subjects with coronary artery disease had higher plasma concentrations of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and VLDL and LDL cholesterol (P = .04) and lower concentrations of HDL cholesterol (P = .0001) than subjects without coronary artery disease, but there was no significant difference in the plasma concentration of Lp(a). The distribution of apolipoprotein(a) alleles by size was also not significantly different between the two groups. These results suggest that the plasma concentration of Lp(a) is not an independent risk factor for coronary artery disease in African-Americans.
Regulation of the expression of 3-hydroxy-3-methyglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase is a critical step in controlling cholesterol synthesis. Previous studies in cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells have shown that HMG-CoA reductase is transcribed from a cholesterol-regulated promoter to yield a heterogeneous collection of mRNAs with 5' untranslated regions of 68 to 670 nucleotides in length. Synthesis of these molecules is initiated at multiple sites, and multiple donor sites are used to excise an intron in the 5' untranslated region. In the current paper, I report that human HMG-CoA reductase gene resembles the Chinese hamster gene in having multiple sites of transcription initiation that are subject to suppression by cholesterol. The human gene differs from the hamster gene in that a single donor splice site is used to excise the intron in the 5' untranslated region. All of the resulting RNAs have short 5' untranslated regions of 68 to 100 nucleotides. This difference in the splicing pattern of the first intron is species specific and not a peculiarity of cultured cells in that HMG-CoA reductase mRNAs from Syrian hamster livers resemble those of the cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells. Comparison of the DNA sequences of the HMG-CoA reductase promoters from three different species--humans, Syrian hamsters, and Chinese hamsters--shows a highly conserved region of 179 nucleotides that extends from 220 to 42 nucleotides upstream of the transcription initiation sites. This region is 88% identical between the human and Chinese hamster promoter. When fused to the coding region of the Escherichia coli chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene, this highly conserved region of the reductase gene directs the cholesterol-regulated expression of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase in transfected hamster cells, further indicating the interspecies conservation of the regulatory elements.
Two clusters of Alu sequences in the human low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor gene have been analyzed in detail. One Alu cluster is present within the intron separating exons 15 and 16 of the gene and contains a polymorphic Pvu II site. The presence or absence of this site gives rise to two allelic fragments of 14 and 16.5 kilobases, respectively, in genomic Southern blots using cloned cDNA probes. This DNA polymorphic site is caused by a single adenine to guanine transition within an Alu repetitive element. The second cluster of Alu sequences is located in exon 18 of the LDL receptor gene. Southern blotting of primate DNAs suggests that this cluster became associated with the gene about 30 million years ago. Comparison of bovine DNA sequences, which lack this Alu cluster, with those of the human indicates that the Alu sequences inserted in exon 18 in two independent events.