Effects of Cholesterol Depletion and Increased Lipid Unsaturation on the Properties of Endocytic Membranes Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Cholesterol
  • Endocytosis
  • Ergosterol
  • Fats, Unsaturated


  • Lipid analogs with dialkylindocarbocyanine (DiI) head groups and short or unsaturated hydrocarbon chains (e.g. DiIC(12) and FAST DiI) enter the endocytic recycling compartment efficiently, whereas lipid analogs with long, saturated tails (e.g. DiIC(16) and DiIC(18)) are sorted out of this pathway and targeted to the late endosomes/lysosomes (Mukherjee, S., Soe, T. T., and Maxfield, F. R. (1999) J. Cell Biol. 144, 1271-1284). This differential trafficking of lipid analogs with the same polar head group was interpreted to result from differential partitioning to different types of domains with varying membrane order and/or curvature. Here we investigate the system further by monitoring the trafficking behavior of these lipid analogs under conditions that alter domain properties. There was a marked effect of cholesterol depletion on the cell-surface distribution and degree of internalization of the lipid probes. Furthermore, instead of going to the late endosomes/lysosomes as in control cells, long chain DiI analogs, such as DiIC(16), were sorted to the recycling pathway in cholesterol-depleted cells. We confirmed that this difference was due to a change in overall membrane properties, and not cholesterol levels per se, by utilizing a Chinese hamster ovary cell line that overexpressed transfected stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1, a rate-limiting enzyme in the production of monounsaturated fatty acids. These cells have a decrease in membrane order because they contain a much larger fraction of unsaturated fatty acids. These cells showed alteration of DiI trafficking very similar to cholesterol-depleted cells. By using cold Triton X-100 extractability of different lipids as a criterion to determine the membrane properties of intracellular organelles, we found that the endocytic recycling compartment has abundant detergent-resistant membranes, in contrast to the late endosomes and lysosomes.

publication date

  • April 2, 2004



  • Academic Article



  • eng

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1074/jbc.M309793200

PubMed ID

  • 14734557

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 14171

end page

  • 8


  • 279


  • 14