Lysosomal cholesterol egress requires two proteins, NPC1 and NPC2, whose defects are responsible for Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC). Here, we present systematic structural characterizations that reveal the molecular basis for low-pH-dependent cholesterol delivery from NPC2 to the transmembrane (TM) domain of NPC1. At pH 8.0, similar structures of NPC1 were obtained in nanodiscs and in detergent at resolutions of 3.6 Å and 3.0 Å, respectively. A tunnel connecting the N-terminal domain (NTD) and the transmembrane sterol-sensing domain (SSD) was unveiled. At pH 5.5, the NTD exhibits two conformations, suggesting the motion for cholesterol delivery to the tunnel. A putative cholesterol molecule is found at the membrane boundary of the tunnel, and TM2 moves toward formation of a surface pocket on the SSD. Finally, the structure of the NPC1-NPC2 complex at 4.0 Å resolution was obtained at pH 5.5, elucidating the molecular basis for cholesterol handoff from NPC2 to NPC1(NTD).
Keywords: NPC1; NPC2; Niemann-Pick disease type C; cholesterol transport; cryo-EM; lysosomal cholesterol egress; structural biology.
Published by Elsevier Inc.