Expression of the Z Variant of α1-Antitrypsin Suppresses Hepatic Cholesterol Biosynthesis in Transgenic Zebrafish

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Individuals homozygous for the Pi*Z allele of SERPINA1 (ZAAT) are susceptible to lung disease due to insufficient α1-antitrypsin secretion into the circulation and may develop liver disease due to compromised protein folding that leads to inclusion body formation in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of hepatocytes. Transgenic zebrafish expressing human ZAAT show no signs of hepatic accumulation despite displaying serum insufficiency, suggesting the defect in ZAAT secretion occurs independently of its tendency to form inclusion bodies. In this study, proteomic, transcriptomic, and biochemical analysis provided evidence of suppressed Srebp2-mediated cholesterol biosynthesis in the liver of ZAAT-expressing zebrafish. To investigate the basis for this perturbation, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing was used to manipulate ER protein quality control factors. Mutation of erlec1 resulted in a further suppression in the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway, confirming a role for this ER lectin in targeting misfolded ZAAT for ER-associated degradation (ERAD). Mutation of the two ER mannosidase homologs enhanced ZAAT secretion without inducing hepatic accumulation. These insights into hepatic ZAAT processing suggest potential therapeutic targets to improve secretion and alleviate serum insufficiency in this form of the α1-antitrypsin disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2475
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2023


  • ERAD
  • liver
  • zebrafish
  • α-1-antitrypsin

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