Niemann-Pick type C (NP-C) disease, a fatal neurovisceral disorder, is characterized by lysosomal accumulation of low density lipoprotein (LDL)- derived cholesterol. By positional cloning methods, a gene (NPC1) with insertion, deletion, and missense mutations has been identified in NP-C patients. Transfection of NP-C fibroblasts with wild-type NPC1 cDNA resulted in correction of their excessive lysosomal storage of LDL cholesterol, thereby defining the critical role of NPC1 in regulation of intracellular cholesterol trafficking. The 1278-amino acid NPC1 protein has sequence similarity to the morphogen receptor PATCHED and the putative sterol-sensing regions of SREBP cleavage-activating protein (SCAP) and 3-hydroxy-3-methyl- glutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase.
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