Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.288, No.5, 1258-1264, 2001
Characterization of the ATPase cycle of human ABCA1: Implications for its function as a regulator rather than an active transporter
ABCA1 plays a key role in cellular cholesterol and phospholipid traffic. To explore the biochemical properties of this membrane protein we applied a Baculovirus-insect cell expression system. We found that human ABCA1 in isolated membranes showed a specific, Mg2+-dependent ATP binding but had no measurable ATPase activity. Nevertheless, conformational changes in ABCA1 could be demonstrated by nucleotide occlusion, even without arresting the catalytic cycle by phosphate-mimicking anions. Addition of potential lipid substrates or lipid acceptors (apolipoprotein A-I) did not modify the ATPase activity or nucleotide occlusion by ABCA1. Our data indicate that ATP hydrolysis by ABCA1 occurs at a very low rate, suggesting that ABCA1 may not function as an effective active transporter as previously assumed. In the light of the observed conformational changes we propose a regulatory function for human ABCA1.