Synthesis, processing, and secretion of hepatic very low density lipoprotein

J Cell Biochem. 1984;24(2):131-52. doi: 10.1002/jcb.240240205.


Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) is the major vehicle in the plasma which carries triacylglycerol synthesized in the liver to peripheral tissues for utilization. Estrogen-induced chick parenchymal liver cells (hepatocytes) synthesize and secrete large amounts of VLDL. These cells, in a primary monolayer culture system developed in this laboratory, have been employed to study the operative and regulatory aspects of VLDL synthesis, assembly, and secretion. Some 10 min are required for the translation of the principle VLDL protein constituent, apolipoprotein B, and 30-35 min are required for the two newly translated chick VLDL apolipoproteins, apolipoprotein B and apolipoprotein II, to be secreted. Apolipoprotein B is synthesized on membrane-bound polysomes as a contiguous polypeptide chain of 350K molecular weight (MW) and is not assembled posttranslationally from smaller-peptide precursors. Translocation of puromycin-discharged apolipoprotein B nascent chains into the endoplasmic reticulum lumen and their subsequent secretion are independent of both ongoing protein synthesis and the attachment of the nascent peptides to ribosomes. Apolipoprotein B nascent chains discharged by puromycin assemble with glycerolipid (mainly triacylglycerol) and are secreted as immunoprecipitable VLDL. Core oligosaccharides are added to the apolipoprotein B nascent chain co-translationally in at least two stages, at molecular weights of approximately 120K and approximately 280K . Inhibition of N-linked glycosylation of apolipoprotein B with tunicamycin affects neither the assembly of glycerolipids into VLDL nor the secretion of the VLDL particle, indicating that aglyco -apolipoprotein B can serve as a functional component for VLDL assembly and secretion. Active synthesis of the VLDL apolipoproteins is required, however, for glycerolipid assembly into VLDL and secretion from the hepatocyte. The differential kinetics with which newly synthesized apolipoproteins and glycerolipids are secreted as VLDL and the timing of the effects of protein-synthesis inhibitors on their secretion indicate that VLDL constituents are assembled sequentially in the intact liver cell. The bulk of the VLDL triacylglycerol and some VLDL phosphoglyceride is introduced early in the secretory pathway proximal, yet subsequent to apopeptide synthesis, while a significant fraction of VLDL phosphoglyceride associates with the resulting triacylglycerol-rich lipid-protein complexes just prior to their secretion as mature VLDL. Within the context of current models for VLDL structure, the late assembly of phosphoglyceride into VLDL is taken to represent a surface maturation of the nascent VLDL particle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apolipoproteins / metabolism
  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Cycloheximide / pharmacology
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glycerophosphates / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL / metabolism*
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Puromycin / pharmacology
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Apolipoproteins
  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Glycerophosphates
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Puromycin
  • Cycloheximide
  • Glucose