Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Cell Reports 19, 2116–2129


Copyright 2017 The Author(s).

Open access


Plasma membrane (PM) free cholesterol (FC) is emerging as an important modulator of signal transduction. Here, we show that hepatocyte-specific knockout (HSKO) of the cellular FC exporter, ATPbinding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1), leads to decreased PM FC content and defective trafficking of lysosomal FC to the PM. Compared with controls, chow-fed HSKO mice had reduced hepatic (1) insulin- stimulated Akt phosphorylation, (2) activation of the lipogenic transcription factor Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Protein (SREBP)-1c, and (3) lipogenic gene expression. Consequently, Westerntype diet-fed HSKO mice were protected from steatosis. Surprisingly, HSKO mice had intact glucose metabolism; they showed normal gluconeogenic gene suppression in response to re-feeding and normal glucose and insulin tolerance. We conclude that: (1) ABCA1 maintains optimal hepatocyte PM FC, through intracellular FC trafficking, for efficient insulin signaling; and (2) hepatocyte ABCA1 deletion produces a form of selective insulin resistance so that lipogenesis is suppressed but glucose metabolism remains normal.