Inhibition of ERK1/2 and activation of liver X receptor synergistically induce macrophage ABCA1 expression and cholesterol efflux
ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
Orphan Nuclear Receptors
ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1), a molecule mediating free cholesterol efflux from peripheral tissues to apoAI and high density lipoprotein (HDL), inhibits the formation of lipid-laden macrophage/foam cells and the development of atherosclerosis. ERK1/2 are important signaling molecules regulating cellular growth and differentiation. The ERK1/2 signaling pathway is implicated in cardiac development and hypertrophy. However, the role of ERK1/2 in the development of atherosclerosis, particularly in macrophage cholesterol homeostasis, is unknown. In this study, we investigated the effects of ERK1/2 activity on macrophage ABCA1 expression and cholesterol efflux. Compared with a minor effect by inhibition of other kinases, inhibition of ERK1/2 significantly increased macrophage cholesterol efflux to apoAI and HDL. In contrast, activation of ERK1/2 reduced macrophage cholesterol efflux and ABCA1 expression. The increased cholesterol efflux by ERK1/2 inhibitors was associated with the increased ABCA1 levels and the binding of apoAI to cells. The increased ABCA1 by ERK1/2 inhibitors was due to increased ABCA1 mRNA and protein stability. The induction of ABCA1 expression and cholesterol efflux by ERK1/2 inhibitors was concentration-dependent. The mechanism study indicated that activation of liver X receptor (LXR) had little effect on ERK1/2 expression and activation. ERK1/2 inhibitors had no effect on macrophage LXRalpha/beta expression, whereas they did not influence the activation or the inhibition of the ABCA1 promoter by LXR or sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP). However, inhibition of ERK1/2 and activation of LXR synergistically induced macrophage cholesterol efflux and ABCA1 expression. Our data suggest that ERK1/2 activity can play an important role in macrophage cholesterol trafficking.