Sigma-1 receptor (S1r) interaction with cholesterol: Mechanisms of s1r activation and its role in neurodegenerative diseases

Vladimir Zhemkov, Michal Geva, Michael R. Hayden, Ilya Bezprozvanny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The sigma-1 receptor (S1R) is a 223 amino acid-long transmembrane endoplasmic retic-ulum (ER) protein. The S1R modulates the activity of multiple effector proteins, but its signaling functions are poorly understood. S1R is associated with cholesterol, and in our recent studies we demonstrated that S1R association with cholesterol induces the formation of S1R clusters. We propose that these S1R-cholesterol interactions enable the formation of cholesterol-enriched microdomains in the ER membrane. We hypothesize that a number of secreted and signaling proteins are recruited and retained in these microdomains. This hypothesis is consistent with the results of an unbiased screen for S1R-interacting partners, which we performed using the engineered ascorbate peroxi-dase 2 (APEX2) technology. We further propose that S1R agonists enable the disassembly of these cholesterol-enriched microdomains and the release of accumulated proteins such as ion channels, signaling receptors, and trophic factors from the ER. This hypothesis may explain the pleotropic signaling functions of the S1R, consistent with previously observed effects of S1R agonists in various experimental systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4082
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2 2021


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Cholesterol
  • Contact sites
  • Drug target
  • Endoplasmic reticulum
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Mitochondria
  • Neu-rodegeneration
  • Sigma-1 receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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