Enantiospecificity of Cholesterol Function in Vivo
The importance of the absolute configuration of cholesterol for its function in vivo is unknown. To directly test this question in vivo, we synthesized the enantiomer of cholesterol (ent-cholesterol) and tested its ability to substitute for natural cholesterol (nat-cholesterol) in the growth, viability, and behavior ofCaenorhabditis elegans, a cholesterol auxotroph. First-generation animals grown on ent-cholesterol were viable with only mild behavioral defects. However,ent-cholesterol produced 100% lethality/arrest of their second generation progeny. Isotopically labeledent-cholesterol incorporated into animals, indicating that its lethality was not secondary to cholesterol starvation. When mixed with nat-cholesterol, ent-cholesterol was not inert; rather, it antagonized the activity ofnat-cholesterol. These results demonstrate for the first time that the absolute configuration of cholesterol, not just its physical properties, is essential for its functions in vivo.