Transgelin: A new gene involved in LDL endocytosis identified by a genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screen

Diego Lucero, Ozan Dikilitas, Michael M. Mendelson, Zahra Aligabi, Promotto Islam, Edward B. Neufeld, Aruna T. Bansal, Lita A. Freeman, Boris Vaisman, Jingrong Tang, Christian A. Combs, Yuesheng Li, Szilard Voros, Iftikhar J. Kullo, Alan T. Remaley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A significant proportion of patients with elevated LDL and a clinical presentation of familial hypercholesterolemia do not carry known genetic mutations associated with hypercholesterolemia, such as defects in the LDL receptor. To identify new genes involved in the cellular uptake of LDL, we developed a novel whole-genome clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat-Cas9 KO screen in HepG2 cells. We identified transgelin (TAGLN), an actinbinding protein, as a potentially new gene involved in LDL endocytosis. In silico validation demonstrated that genetically predicted differences in expression of TAGLN in human populations were significantly associated with elevated plasma lipids (triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL-C) in the Global Lipids Genetics Consortium and lipid-related phenotypes in the UK Biobank. In biochemical studies, TAGLN-KO HepG2 cells showed a reduction in cellular LDL uptake, as measured by flow cytometry. In confocal microscopy imaging, TAGLN-KO cells had disrupted actin filaments as well as an accumulation of LDL receptor on their surface because of decreased receptor internalization. Furthermore, TAGLN-KO cells exhibited a reduction in total and free cholesterol content, activation of SREBP2, and a compensatory increase in cholesterol biosynthesis. TAGLN deficiency also disrupted the uptake of VLDL and transferrin, other known cargoes for receptors that depend upon clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Our data suggest that TAGLN is a novel factor involved in the actindependent phase of clathrin-mediated endocytosis of LDL. The identification of novel genes involved in the endocytic uptake of LDL may improve the diagnosis of hypercholesterolemia and provide future therapeutic targets for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100160
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Actin-binding protein
  • Cellular LDL uptake
  • Endocytosis
  • HepG2 cells
  • LDL
  • LDL receptor
  • Transgelin
  • Whole-genome CRISPR-Cas9 screen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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