Sterol carrier protein-2 (SCP-2) is a nonenzymatic protein of 13.5 kD which has been shown in in vitro experiments to be required for several stages in cholesterol utilization and biosynthesis. The subcellular localization of SCP-2 has not been definitively established. Using affinity-purified rabbit polyclonal antibodies against electrophoretically pure SCP-2 from rat liver, we demonstrate by immunoelectron microscopic labeling of ultrathin frozen sections of rat liver that the largest concentration of SCP-2 is inside peroxisomes. In addition the immunolabeling indicates that there are significant concentrations of SCP-2 inside mitochondria, and associated with the endoplasmic reticulum and the cytosol, but not inside the Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, or the nucleus. These results were confirmed by immunoblotting experiments with proteins from purified subcellular fractions of the rat liver cells carried out with the anti-SCP-2 antibodies. The large concentration of SCP-2 inside peroxisomes strongly supports the proposal that peroxisomes are critical sites of cholesterol utilization and biosynthesis. The presence of SCP-2 inside peroxisomes and mitochondria raises questions about the mechanisms involved in the differential targeting of SCP-2 to these organelles.

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