Inhibition of Rab prenylation by statins induces cellular glycosphingolipid remodeling.

PMID 26405105


Statins, which specifically inhibit HMG Co-A reductase, the rate-limiting step of cholesterol biosynthesis, are widely prescribed to reduce serum cholesterol and cardiac risk, but many other effects are seen. We now show an effect of these drugs to induce profound changes in the step-wise synthesis of glycosphingolipids (GSLs) in the Golgi. Glucosylceramide (GlcCer) was increased several-fold in all cell lines tested, demonstrating a widespread effect. Additionally, de novo or elevated lactotriaosylceramide (Lc3Cer; GlcNAcβ1-3Galβ1-4GlcCer) synthesis was observed in 70%. Western blot showed that GlcCer synthase (GCS) was elevated by statins, and GCS and Lc3Cer synthase (Lc3S) activities were increased; however, transcript was elevated for Lc3S only. Supplementation with the isoprenoid precursor, geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP), a downstream product of HMG Co-A reductase, reversed statin-induced glycosyltransferase and GSL elevation. The Rab geranylgeranyl transferase inhibitor 3-PEHPC, but not specific inhibitors of farnesyl transferase, or geranylgeranyl transferase I, was sufficient to replicate statin-induced GlcCer and Lc3Cer synthesis, supporting a Rab prenylation-dependent mechanism. While total cholesterol was unaffected, the trans-Golgi network (TGN) cholesterol pool was dissipated and medial Golgi GCS partially relocated by statins. GSL-dependent vesicular retrograde transport of Verotoxin and cholera toxin to the Golgi/endoplasmic reticulum were blocked after statin or 3-PEHPC treatment, suggesting aberrant, prenylation-dependent vesicular traffic as a basis of glycosyltransferase increase and GSL remodeling. These in vitro studies indicate a previously unreported link between Rab prenylation and regulation of GCS activity and GlcCer metabolism.

Related Materials