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Biological Chemistry

Editor-in-Chief: Brüne, Bernhard

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Volume 392, Issue 12 (Dec 2011)


Squalene monooxygenase – a target for hypercholesterolemic therapy

Agnieszka Belter
  • Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Science, Noskowskiego 12/14, 61-704 Poznan, Poland
  • AdvaChemLab, Topazowa 8, 61-680 Poznan, Poland
  • BioInfoBank Institute, Limanowskiego 24A, 60-744 Poznan, Poland
/ Miroslawa Skupinska
  • Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Science, Noskowskiego 12/14, 61-704 Poznan, Poland
  • BioInfoBank Institute, Limanowskiego 24A, 60-744 Poznan, Poland
/ Malgorzata Giel-Pietraszuk
  • Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Science, Noskowskiego 12/14, 61-704 Poznan, Poland
/ Tomasz Grabarkiewicz
  • AdvaChemLab, Topazowa 8, 61-680 Poznan, Poland
/ Leszek Rychlewski
  • BioInfoBank Institute, Limanowskiego 24A, 60-744 Poznan, Poland
/ Jan Barciszewski
  • Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Science, Noskowskiego 12/14, 61-704 Poznan, Poland
  • Email:


Squalene monooxygenase catalyzes the epoxidation of C-C double bond of squalene to yield 2,3-oxidosqualene, the key step of sterol biosynthesis pathways in eukaryotes. Sterols are essential compounds of these organisms and squalene epoxidation is an important regulatory point in their synthesis. Squalene monooxygenase downregulation in vertebrates and fungi decreases synthesis of cholesterol and ergosterol, respectively, which makes squalene monooxygenase a potent and attractive target of hypercholesterolemia and antifungal therapies. Currently some fungal squalene monooxygenase inhibitors (terbinafine, naftifine, butenafine) are in clinical use, whereas mammalian enzymes’ inhibitors are still under investigation. Research on new squalene monooxygenase inhibitors is important due to the prevalence of hypercholesterolemia and the lack of both sufficient and safe remedies. In this paper we (i) review data on activity and the structure of squalene monooxygenase, (ii) present its inhibitors, (iii) compare current strategies of lowering cholesterol level in blood with some of the most promising strategies, (iv) underline advantages of squalene monooxygenase as a target for hypercholesterolemia therapy, and (v) discuss safety concerns about hypercholesterolemia therapy based on inhibition of cellular cholesterol biosynthesis and potential usage of squalene monooxygenase inhibitors in clinical practice. After many years of use of statins there is some clinical evidence for their adverse effects and only partial effectiveness. Currently they are drugs of choice but are used with many restrictions, especially in case of children, elderly patients and women of childbearing potential. Certainly, for the next few years, statins will continue to be a suitable tool for cost-effective cardiovascular prevention; however research on new hypolipidemic drugs is highly desirable. We suggest that squalene monooxygenase inhibitors could become the hypocholesterolemic agents of the future.

Keywords: cholesterol; drug design; epoxidation; hypercholesterolemia

About the article

Corresponding author

Received: 2011-08-10

Accepted: 2011-10-08

Published in Print: 2011-12-01

Citation Information: Biological Chemistry, ISSN (Online) 1437-4315, ISSN (Print) 1431-6730, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/BC.2011.195. Export Citation

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