Faculty Publications

Title

A basic model for cell cholesterol homeostasis

Document Type

Article

Keywords

cholesterol, complex, computation, homeostasis, model, phospholipid, plasma membrane, simulation

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Traffic

Abstract

Cells manage their cholesterol by negative feedback using a battery of sterol-responsive proteins. How these activities are coordinated so as to specify the abundance and distribution of the sterol is unclear. We present a simple mathematical model that addresses this question. It assumes that almost all of the cholesterol is associated with phospholipids in stoichiometric complexes. A small fraction of the sterol is uncomplexed and thermodynamically active. It equilibrates among the organelles, setting their sterol level according to the affinity of their phospholipids. The activity of the homeostatic proteins in the cytoplasmic membranes is then set by their fractional saturation with uncomplexed cholesterol in competition with the phospholipids. The high-affinity phospholipids in the plasma membrane (PM) are filled to near stoichiometric equivalence, giving it most of the cell sterol. Notably, the affinity of the phospholipids in the endomembranes (EMs) is lower by orders of magnitude than that of the phospholipids in the PM. Thus, the small amount of sterol in the EMs rests far below stoichiometric capacity. Simulations match a variety of experimental data. The model captures the essence of cell cholesterol homeostasis, makes coherent a diverse set of experimental findings, provides a surprising prediction and suggests new experiments.

Department

Department of Physics

Original Publication Date

1-1-2021

DOI of published version

10.1111/tra.12816

Repository

UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa

Language

en

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