Sterol-induced degradation of HMG CoA reductase depends on interplay of two Insigs and two ubiquitin ligases, gp78 and Trc8.
Accumulation of sterols in membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) leads to the accelerated ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase, a rate-limiting enzyme in synthesis of cholesterol and nonsterol isoprenoids. This degradation results from sterol-induced binding of reductase to the Insig-1 or Insig-2 proteins of ER membranes. We previously reported that in immortalized human fibroblasts (SV-589 cells) Insig-1, but not Insig-2, recruits gp78, a membrane-bound RING-finger ubiquitin ligase. We now report that both Insig-1 and Insig-2 bind another membrane-bound RING-finger ubiquitin ligase called Trc8. Knockdown of either gp78 or Trc8 in SV-589 cells through RNA interference (RNAi) inhibited sterol-induced ubiquitination of reductase and inhibited sterol-induced degradation by 50-60%. The combined knockdown of gp78 and Trc8 produced a more complete inhibition of degradation (> 90%). Knockdown of gp78 led to a three to fourfold increase in levels of Trc8 and Insig-1 proteins, which opposed the inhibitory action of gp78. In contrast, knockdown of Trc8 had no effect on gp78 or Insig-1. The current results suggest that sterol-induced ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of reductase is dictated by the complex interplay of at least four proteins: Insig-1, Insig-2, gp78, and Trc8. Variations in the concentrations of any one of these proteins may account for differences in cell- and/or tissue-specific regulation of reductase degradation.