The prohibitin complex regulates macrophage fatty acid composition, plasma membrane packing, and lipid raft-mediated inflammatory signaling

Published:January 18, 2023DOI:


      • Role of prohibitins (PHBs) in macrophage signaling was studied using PHB knockdown.
      • PHB knockdown decreases expression and signaling of lipid raft-dependent receptors.
      • Plasma membrane packing and raft formation are altered in PHB knockdown macrophages.
      • PHB controls the composition of cellular fatty acids.
      • PHBs impact macrophage signaling by regulating lipid rafts.


      Prohibitins (PHB1 and PHB2) are ubiquitously expressed proteins which play critical roles in multiple biological processes, and together form the ring-like PHB complex found in phospholipid-rich cellular compartments including lipid rafts. Recent studies have implicated PHB1 as a mediator of fatty acid transport as well as a membrane scaffold mediating B lymphocyte and mast cell signal transduction. However, the specific role of PHBs in the macrophage have not been characterized, including their role in fatty acid uptake and lipid raft-mediated inflammatory signaling. We hypothesized that the PHB complex regulates macrophage inflammatory signaling through the formation of lipid rafts. To evaluate our hypothesis, RAW 264.7 macrophages were transduced with shRNA against PHB1, PHB2, or scrambled control (Scr), and then stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), which activate lipid raft-dependent receptor signaling (CD14/TLR4 and TNFR1, respectively). PHB1 knockdown was lethal, whereas PHB2 knockdown (PHB2kd), which also resulted in decreased PHB1 expression, led to attenuated nuclear factor-kappa-B (NF-κB) activation and subsequent cytokine and chemokine production. PHB2kd macrophages also had decreased cell surface TNFR1, CD14, TLR4, and lipid raft marker ganglioside GM1 at baseline and post-stimuli. Post-LPS, PHB2kd macrophages did not increase the concentration of cellular saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. This was accompanied by decreased lipid raft formation and modified plasma membrane molecular packing, further supporting the PHB complex's importance in lipid raft formation. Taken together, these data suggest a critical role for PHBs in regulating macrophage inflammatory signaling via maintenance of fatty acid composition and lipid raft structure.


      Prohibitins are proteins found in phospholipid-rich cellular compartments, including lipid rafts, that play important roles in signaling, transcription, and multiple other cell functions. Macrophages are key cells in the innate immune response and the presence of membrane lipid rafts is integral to signal transduction, but the role of prohibitins in macrophage lipid rafts and associated signaling is unknown. To address this question, prohibitin knockdown macrophages were generated and responses to lipopolysaccharide and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, which act through lipid raft-dependent receptors, were analyzed. Prohibitin knockdown macrophages had significantly decreased cytokine and chemokine production, transcription factor activation, receptor expression, lipid raft assembly and membrane packing, and altered fatty acid remodeling. These data indicate a novel role for prohibitins in macrophage inflammatory signaling through regulation of fatty acid composition and lipid raft formation.


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