Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) regulates cholesterol metabolism by inducing the degradation of hepatic low density lipoprotein receptors (LDLRs). Plasma PCSK9 has 2 main molecular forms: a 62 kDa mature form (PCSK9_62) and a 55 kDa, furin-cleaved form (PCSK9_55). PCSK9_55 is considered less active than PCSK9_62 in degrading LDLRs. We aimed to identify the site of PCSK9_55 formation (intracellular vs. extracellular) and to further characterize the LDLR-degradative function of PCSK9_55 relative to PCSK9_62. Coexpressing PCSK9_62 with furin in cell culture induced formation of PCSK9_55, most of which was found in the extracellular space. Under the same conditions, we found that i) adding a cell-permeable furin inhibitor preferentially decreased the formation of PCSK9_55 extracellularly; ii) using pulse-chase analysis, we observed the formation of PCSK9_55 exclusively extracellularly in a time-dependent manner. A recombinant form of PCSK9_55 was efficiently produced but displayed impaired secretion that resulted in its intracellular trapping. However, the nonsecreted PCSK9_55 was able to induce degradation of LDLR, though with 50% lower efficiency than PCSK9_62. Collectively, our data show that 1) PCSK9_55 is formed extracellularly; 2) PCSK9_55 has a shorter half-life; 3) there is a small intracellular pool of PCSK9_55 that is not secreted; and 4) PCSK9_55 retained within the cell maintains a reduced efficiency to cause LDLR degradation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology