The mechanism by which depletion of hepatic cholesterol levels, achieved by inhibition of squalene synthase, alters hepatic LDL receptor, HMG-CoA reductase, and cholesterol 7alpha-hydroxylase gene expression was investigated by measuring transcription rates, mRNA stability, rates of translation, translational efficiency, and levels of sterol response element binding proteins. It was found that the transcription of both hepatic LDL receptor and HMG-CoA reductase were increased about twofold. The increase in LDL receptor transcription occurred within 2 h after giving 2 mg/kg zaragozic acid A, a potent inhibitor of squalene synthase. This preceded the increase in transcription of HMG-CoA reductase that occurred at 4 h. Increases in the stability of both of these mRNAs were also observed. These changes account for the increases in LDL receptor and HMG-CoA reductase mRNA levels previously observed. The rate of transcription of hepatic cholesterol 7alpha-hydroxylase was decreased to about 25% of control within 3 h after administration of zaragozic acid A, which correlates with the decrease in this mRNA. The rates of translation, as determined by pulse labeling, of both hepatic HMG-CoA reductase and LDL receptor were increased two- to threefold. The translational efficiency of these two mRNAs was also increased as judged by polysome profile analysis. There was an increase in mRNA associated with the heaviest polysome fraction and a decrease in that associated with monosomes. No significant change was observed in the levels of sterol response element binding protein 2, the form that mediates induced transcription, in response to zaragozic acid A treatment, indicating that this protein might not be involved in mediating the observed transcriptional changes. An increase in sterol response element binding protein -1 was observed 30 min after giving zaragozic acid A. The results suggest that compensatory responses to depletion of squalene-derived products involve alterations in the rates of transcription, mRNA stability, and translational of key proteins involved in cholesterol homeostasis.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.