Cholesterol level regulates endosome motility via rab proteins

Hongtao Chen, Jun Yang, Philip S. Low, Ji Xin Cheng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The role of cholesterol in the regulation of endosome motility was investigated by monitoring the intracellular trafficking of endocytosed folate receptors (FRs) labeled with fluorescent folate conjugates. Real-time fluorescence imaging of HeLa cells transfected with green fluorescent protein-tubulin revealed that FR-containing endosomes migrate along microtubules. Moreover, microinjection with antibodies that inhibit microtubule-associated motor proteins demonstrated that dynein and kinesin I participate in the delivery of FR-containing endosomes to the perinuclear area and plasma membrane, respectively. Further, single-particle tracking analysis revealed bidirectional motions of FR endosomes, mediated by dynein and kinesin motors associated with the same endosome. These experimental tools allowed us to use FR-containing endosomes to evaluate the impact of cholesterol on intracellular membrane trafficking. Lowering plasma membrane cholesterol by metabolic depletion or methyl-β-cyclodextrin extraction was found to both increase FR-containing endosome motility and change endosome distribution from colocalization with Rab7 to colocalization with Rab4. These data provide evidence that cholesterol regulates intracellular membrane trafficking via modulation of the distribution of low molecular weight G-proteins that are adaptors for microtubule motors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1508-1520
Number of pages13
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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