Phosphorylation by protein kinase C stabilizes ABCG1 and increases cholesterol efflux

J Biochem. 2019 May 21;mvz039. doi: 10.1093/jb/mvz039. Online ahead of print.


ATP-binding cassette protein G1 (ABCG1) plays an important role in eliminating excess cholesterol from macrophages and in the formation of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which contribute to the prevention and regression of atherosclerosis. The post-translational regulation of ABCG1 remains elusive, although phosphorylation by protein kinase A destabilizes ABCG1 proteins. We examined the phosphorylation of ABCG1 using HEK293 and Raw264.7 cells. ABCG1 phosphorylation was enhanced by treatment with 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), a protein kinase C (PKC) activator. PKC activation by TPA increased ABCG1 protein levels and promoted ABCG1-dependent cholesterol efflux to HDL. This activity was suppressed by Go6976, a PKCα/βI inhibitor, suggesting that PKC activation stabilizes ABCG1. To confirm this, the degradation rate of ABCG1 was analysed; ABCG1 degradation was suppressed upon PKC activation, suggesting that PKC phosphorylation regulates ABCG1 levels. To confirm this involvement, we co-expressed ABCG1 and a constitutively active form of PKCα in HEK cells. ABCG1 was increased upon co-expression. These results suggest that PKC-mediated phosphorylation, probably PKCα, stabilizes ABCG1, consequently increasing ABCG1-mediated cholesterol efflux, by suppressing ABCG1 degradation. PKC activation could thus be a therapeutic target to suppress the development of atherosclerosis.

Keywords: ABC protein; atherosclerosis; cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein (HDL); transporter.