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Ubiquitin E3 ligase mediated regulation of HMG-CoA Reductase



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Menzies, Sam 


Loss-of-function genetic screens are a powerful approach to identify the genes involved in biological processes. For nearly a century, forward genetic screens in model organisms have provided enormous insight into many cellular processes. However, the difficulty in generating and recovering bi-allelic mutations in diploid cells severely hindered the performance of forward genetic screens in mammalian cells. The development of a retroviral gene-trap vector to mutagenise the human near-haploid KBM7 cell line transformed forward genetic screens in human cells. The re-purposing of the microbial CRISPR/Cas9 system now offers an effective method to generate gene knockouts in diploid cells. Here, I performed a head-to-head comparison of retroviral gene-trap mutagenesis screens and genome-wide CRISPR knockout screens in KBM7 cells. The two screening approaches were equally effective at identifying genes required for the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated degradation of MHC class I molecules. The ER-resident enzyme HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR) catalyses the rate-limiting step in the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway and is targeted therapeutically by statins. To maintain cholesterol homeostasis, the expression of HMGCR is tightly regulated by sterols transcriptionally and post-translationally. Sterols induce the association of HMGCR with Insig proteins, which recruit E3 ubiquitin ligase complexes to mediate degradation of HMGCR by the ubiquitin proteasome system. However, the identity of the E3 ligase(s) responsible for HMGCR ubiquitination is controversial. Here, I use a series of genome-wide CRISPR knockout screens using a fluorescently-tagged HMGCR exogenous reporter and an endogenous HMGCR knock-in as an unbiased approach to identify the E3 ligases and any additional components required for HMGCR degradation. The CRISPR screens identified a role for the poorly characterised ERAD E3 ligase RNF145. I found RNF145 to be functionally redundant with gp78, an E3 ligase previously implicated in HMGCR degradation, and the loss of both E3 ligases was required to significantly inhibit the sterol-induced degradation and ubiquitination of HMGCR. A focused E3 ligase CRISPR screen revealed that the combined loss of gp78, RNF145 and Hrd1 was required to completely block the sterol-induced degradation of HMGCR. I present a model to account for this apparent complexity.





Lehner, Paul


HMG-CoA Reductase, Ubiquitin E3 ligase, CRISPR


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Wellcome Trust