Sterol-regulated ubiquitination marks 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase, a rate-determining enzyme in cholesterol synthesis, for endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated degradation by 26 S proteasomes. This degradation, which results from sterol-induced binding of reductase to ER membrane proteins called Insigs, contributes to the complex, multivalent feedback regulation of the enzyme. Degradation of HMG-CoA reductase is also stimulated by various forms of vitamin E, a generic term for alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocopherols and tocotrienols, which are primarily recognized for their potent antioxidant activity. Here, we show that delta-tocotrienol stimulates ubiquitination and degradation of reductase and blocks processing of sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs), another sterol-mediated action of Insigs. The gamma-tocotrienol analog is more selective in enhancing reductase ubiquitination and degradation than blocking SREBP processing. Other forms of vitamin E neither accelerate reductase degradation nor block SREBP processing. In vitro assays indicate that gamma- and delta-tocotrienol trigger reductase ubiquitination directly and do not require further metabolism for activity. Taken together, these results provide a biochemical mechanism for the hypocholesterolemic effects of vitamin E that have been observed in animals and humans.

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Characterization of the potent neuroprotective properties of the natural vitamin E alpha-tocotrienol

Khanna S, Roy S, Parinandi NL, Maurer M, Sen CK.

J Neurochem. 2006 Sep;98(5):1474-86.

The natural vitamin E tocotrienols possess properties not shared by tocopherols. Nanomolar alpha-tocotrienol, not alpha-tocopherol, is potently neuroprotective. On a concentration basis, this finding represents the most potent of all biological functions exhibited by any natural vitamin E molecule. We sought to dissect the antioxidant-independent and -dependent neuroprotective properties of alpha-tocotrienol by using two different triggers of neurotoxicity, homocysteic acid (HCA) and linoleic acid. Both HCA and linoleic acid caused neurotoxicity with comparable features, such as increased ratio of oxidized to reduced glutathione GSSG/GSH, raised intracellular calcium concentration and compromised mitochondrial membrane potential. Mechanisms underlying HCA-induced neurodegeneration were comparable to those in the path implicated in glutamate-induced neurotoxicity. Inducible activation of c-Src and 12-lipoxygenase (12-Lox) represented early events in that pathway. Overexpression of active c-Src or 12-Lox sensitized cells to HCA-induced death. Nanomolar alpha-tocotrienol was protective. Knock-down of c-Src or 12-Lox attenuated HCA-induced neurotoxicity. Oxidative stress represented a late event in HCA-induced death. The observation that micromolar, but not nanomolar, alpha-tocotrienol functions as an antioxidant was verified in a model involving linoleic acid-induced oxidative stress and cell death. Oral supplementation of alpha-tocotrienol to humans results in a peak plasma concentration of 3 microm. Thus, oral alpha-tocotrienol may be neuroprotective by antioxidant-independent as well as antioxidant-dependent mechanisms.

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Down-regulation of telomerase activity in DLD-1 human colorectal adenocarcinoma cells by tocotrienol.

Eitsuka T, Nakagawa K, Miyazawa T.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Sep 15;348(1):170-5.

As high telomerase activity is detected in most cancer cells, inhibition of telomerase by drug or dietary food components is a new strategy for cancer prevention. Here, we investigated the inhibitory effect of vitamin E, with particular emphasis on tocotrienol (unsaturated vitamin E), on human telomerase in cell-culture study. As results, tocotrienol inhibited telomerase activity of DLD-1 human colorectal adenocarcinoma cells in time- and dose-dependent manner, interestingly, with delta-tocotrienol exhibiting the highest inhibitory activity. Tocotrienol inhibited protein kinase C activity, resulting in down-regulation of c-myc and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) expression, thereby reducing telomerase activity. In contrast to tocotrienol, tocopherol showed very weak telomerase inhibition. These results provide novel evidence for the first time indicating that tocotrienol acts as a potent candidate regulator of telomerase and supporting the anti-proliferative function of tocotrienol.