Apolipoprotein (apo) B-100 is an essential component of atherogenic plasma lipoproteins. Previous studies have demonstrated that the production of apoB-100 is regulated largely by intracellular degradation at both the co-translational and post-translational levels and that proteasome-mediated and non-proteasome-mediated pathways are involved in this process. ApoB-100 is a glycoprotein. The present study was undertaken to address the question of whether the inhibition of N-linked glycosylation with tunicamycin would interfere with apoB-100 production. We demonstrated that the treatment of HepG2 cells with tunicamycin decreased the net production of apoB-100 by enhancing co-translational degradation of the protein. This effect of tunicamycin was partly prevented by lactacystin, a specific proteasome inhibitor. Because lactacystin only partly reversed the effects of tunicamycin on apoB biogenesis, tunicamycin seemed also to induce apoB co-translational degradation in HepG2 cells by one or more non-proteasomal pathways. Furthermore, tunicamycin increased apoB ubiquitination approx. 4-fold. The proportion of the newly synthesized apoB-100 that was secreted and incorporated into the nascent lipoprotein particles was unaffected by tunicamycin. Thus the tunicamycin-mediated inhibition of N-linked glycosylation interferes with the production of apoB-100 that is mediated by both proteasomal and non-proteasomal pathways.

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