Membrane Lipid Domains Distinct from Cholesterol/Sphingomyelin-Rich Rafts Are Involved in the ABCA1-mediated Lipid Secretory Pathway

Armando J. Mendez, Guorong Lin, David P. Wade, Richard M. Lawn, John F. Oram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations


Efflux of excess cellular cholesterol mediated by lipid-poor apolipoproteins occurs by an active mechanism distinct from passive diffusion and is controlled by the ATP-binding cassette transporter ABCA1. Here we examined whether ABCA1-mediated lipid efflux involves the selective removal of lipids associated with membrane rafts, plasma membrane domains enriched in cholesterol and sphingomyelin. ABCA1 was not associated with cholesterol and sphingolipid-rich membrane raft domains based on detergent solubility and lack of colocalization with marker proteins associated with raft domains. Lipid efflux to apoA-I was accounted for by decreases in cellular lipids not associated with cholesterol/sphingomyelin-rich membranes. Treating cells with filipin, to disrupt raft structure, or with sphingomyelinase, to digest plasma membrane sphingomyelin, did not impair apoA-I-mediated cholesterol or phosphatidylcholine efflux. In contrast, efflux of cholesterol to high density lipoproteins (HDL) or plasma was partially accounted for by depletion of cholesterol from membrane rafts. Additionally, HDL-mediated cholesterol efflux was partially inhibited by filipin and sphingomyelinase treatment. Apo-A-I-mediated cholesterol efflux was absent from fibroblasts with nonfunctional ABCA1 (Tangier disease cells), despite near normal amounts of cholesterol associated with raft domains and normal abilities of plasma and HDL to deplete cholesterol from these domains. Thus, the involvement of membrane rafts in cholesterol efflux applies to lipidated HDL particles but not to lipid-free apoA-I. We conclude that cholesterol and sphingomyelin-rich membrane rafts do not provide lipid for efflux promoted by apolipoproteins through the ABCA1-mediated lipid secretory pathway and that ABCA1 is not associated with these domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3158-3166
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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