Decreased APOE-containing HDL subfractions and cholesterol efflux capacity of serum in mice lacking Pcsk9.
ABSTRACT: Studies in animals showed that PCSK9 is involved in HDL metabolism. We investigated the molecular mechanism by which PCSK9 regulates HDL cholesterol concentration and also whether Pcsk9 inactivation might affect cholesterol efflux capacity of serum and atherosclerotic fatty streak volume.Mass spectrometry and western blot were used to analyze the level of apolipoprotein E (APOE) and A1 (APOA1). A mouse model overexpressing human LDLR was used to test the effect of high levels of liver LDLR on the concentration of HDL cholesterol and APOE-containing HDL subfractions. Pcsk9 knockout males lacking LDLR and APOE were used to test whether LDLR and APOE are necessary for PCSK9-mediated HDL cholesterol regulation. We also investigated the effects of Pcsk9 inactivation on cholesterol efflux capacity of serum using THP-1 and J774.A1 macrophage foam cells and atherosclerotic fatty streak volume in the aortic sinus of Pcsk9 knockout males fed an atherogenic diet.APOE and APOA1 were reduced in the same HDL subfractions of Pcsk9 knockout and human LDLR transgenic male mice. In Pcsk9/Ldlr double-knockout mice, HDL cholesterol concentration was lower than in Ldlr knockout mice and higher than in wild-type controls. In Pcsk9/Apoe double-knockout mice, HDL cholesterol concentration was similar to that of Apoe knockout males. In Pcsk9 knockout males, THP-1 macrophage cholesterol efflux capacity of serum was reduced and the fatty streak lesion volume was similar to wild-type controls.In mice, LDLR and APOE are important factors for PCSK9-mediated HDL regulation. Our data suggest that, although LDLR plays a major role in PCSK9-mediated regulation of HDL cholesterol concentration, it is not the only mechanism and that, regardless of mechanism, APOE is essential. Pcsk9 inactivation decreases the HDL cholesterol concentration and cholesterol efflux capacity in serum, but does not increase atherosclerotic fatty streak volume.
Project description:Proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin 9 (Pcsk9) is a subtilisin serine protease with a putative role in cholesterol metabolism. Pcsk9 expression is down-regulated by dietary cholesterol, and mutations in Pcsk9 have been associated with a form of autosomal dominant hypercholesterolemia. To study the function of Pcsk9 in mice, an adenovirus constitutively expressing murine Pcsk9 (Pcsk9-Ad) was used. Pcsk9 overexpression in wild-type mice caused a 2-fold increase in plasma total cholesterol and a 5-fold increase in non-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, with no increase in HDL cholesterol, as compared with mice infected with a control adenovirus. Fast protein liquid chromatography analysis showed that the increase in non-HDL cholesterol was due to an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This effect appeared to depend on the LDL receptor (LDLR) because LDLR knockout mice infected with Pcsk9-Ad had no change in plasma cholesterol levels as compared with knockout mice infected with a control adenovirus. Furthermore, whereas overexpression of Pcsk9 had no effect on LDLR mRNA levels, there was a near absence of LDLR protein in animals overexpressing Pcsk9. These results were confirmed in vitro by the demonstration that transfection of Pcsk9 in McA-RH7777 cells caused a reduction in LDLR protein and LDL binding. In summary, these results indicate that overexpression of Pcsk9 interferes with LDLR-mediated LDL cholesterol uptake. Because Pcsk9 and LDLR are coordinately regulated by cholesterol, Pcsk9 may be involved in a novel mechanism to modulate LDLR function by an alternative pathway than classic cholesterol inhibition of sterol regulatory element binding protein-mediated transcription.
Project description:Genetic studies have demonstrated an important role for proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) as a determinant of plasma cholesterol levels. However, the underlying molecular mechanism is not completely understood. To this end, we have generated a mammalian cell expression system for human PCSK9 and its mutants and produced transgenic mice expressing human PCSK9. HEK293T cells transfected with the human PCSK9 DNA construct expressed and secreted PCSK9 and displayed decreased LDLR levels; functional PCSK9 protein was purified from the conditioned medium. In vitro studies showed that PCSK9 self-associated in a concentration-, temperature-, and pH-dependent manner. A mixture of PCSK9 monomers, dimers, and trimers displayed an enhanced LDLR degrading activity compared to monomeric PCSK9. A gain-of-function mutant, D374Y, displayed greatly increased self-association compared to wild-type PCSK9. Moreover, we demonstrated that the catalytic domain of PCSK9 is responsible for the self-association. Self-association of PCSK9 was enhanced by incubation with mouse apoE-/- VLDL and inhibited by incubation with both human and mouse HDL. When PCSK9 protein was incubated with total serum, it partially associated with LDL and HDL but not with VLDL. In transgenic mice, PCSK9 also associated with LDL and HDL but not with VLDL. We conclude that self-association is an intrinsic property of PCSK9, correlated to its LDLR-degrading activity and affected by plasma lipoproteins. These results provide a basis for developing strategies to manipulate PCSK9 activity in the circulation for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia.
Project description:LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) contributes to coronary heart disease. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) increases LDL-C by inhibiting LDL-C clearance. The therapeutic potential for PCSK9 inhibitors is highlighted by the fact that PCSK9 loss-of-function carriers exhibit 15-30% lower circulating LDL-C and a disproportionately lower risk (47-88%) of experiencing a cardiovascular event. Here, we utilized pcsk9(-/-) mice and an anti-PCSK9 antibody to study the role of the LDL receptor (LDLR) and ApoE in PCSK9-mediated regulation of plasma cholesterol and atherosclerotic lesion development. We found that circulating cholesterol and atherosclerotic lesions were minimally modified in pcsk9(-/-) mice on either an LDLR- or ApoE-deficient background. Acute administration of an anti-PCSK9 antibody did not reduce circulating cholesterol in an ApoE-deficient background, but did reduce circulating cholesterol (-45%) and TGs (-36%) in APOE*3Leiden.cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) mice, which contain mouse ApoE, human mutant APOE3*Leiden, and a functional LDLR. Chronic anti-PCSK9 antibody treatment in APOE*3Leiden.CETP mice resulted in a significant reduction in atherosclerotic lesion area (-91%) and reduced lesion complexity. Taken together, these results indicate that both LDLR and ApoE are required for PCSK9 inhibitor-mediated reductions in atherosclerosis, as both are needed to increase hepatic LDLR expression.
Project description:Deletion of the lysophospholipid-sensitive receptor, G2A, in low-density lipoprotein receptor knockout (LDLR(-/-)) mice elevates plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and suppresses atherosclerosis. However, chemotactic action of G2A in monocytes/macrophages, in addition to its modulatory effect on HDL, may contribute to the proatherogenic action of G2A.We determined that deletion of G2A in LDLR(-/-) mice increases the ApoA1, ApoE, and cholesterol content of plasma HDL fractions. Hepatocytes were shown to express G2A and hepatocytes from G2A-deficient LDLR(-/-) mice secreted more ApoA1 and ApoE in HDL fractions compared to their G2A-sufficient counterparts. The atheroprotective and HDL modulatory effects of G2A deficiency were dependent on the presence of ApoE, as deletion of G2A in ApoE(-/-) and ApoE(-/-)LDLR(-/-) mice failed to raise HDL and did not suppress atherosclerosis. G2A deficiency in bone marrow-derived cells of LDLR(-/-) mice had no effect on atherosclerosis or HDL, whereas G2A deficiency in resident tissues was sufficient to raise HDL and suppress atherosclerosis.These data demonstrate that the chemotactic function of G2A in bone marrow-derived monocytes does not modulate atherosclerosis in LDLR(-/-) mice and suggest an ApoE-dependent function for G2A in the control of hepatic HDL metabolism that might contribute to its proatherogenic action.
Project description:Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) binds to the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) and promotes degradation of the LDLR. Inhibition of PCSK9 either by reducing its expression or by blocking its activity results in the upregulation of the LDLR and subsequently lowers the plasma concentration of LDL-cholesterol. As a modality to inhibit PCSK9 action, we searched the chemical library for small molecules that block the binding of PCSK9 to the LDLR.We selected 100 chemicals that bind to PCSK9 where the EGF-AB fragment of the LDLR binds via in silico screening of the ChemBridge chemical library, using the computational GOLD algorithm analysis. Effects of chemicals were evaluated using the PCSK9-LDLR binding assay, immunoblot analysis, and the LDL-cholesterol uptake assay in vitro, as well as the fast performance liquid chromatography assay for plasma lipoproteins in vivo.A set of chemicals were found that decreased the binding of PCSK9 to the EGF-AB fragment of the LDLR in a dose-dependent manner. They also increased the amount of the LDLR significantly and subsequently increased the uptake of fluorescence-labeled LDL in HepG2 cells. Additionally, one particular molecule lowered the plasma concentration of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol significantly in wild-type mice, while such an effect was not observed in Pcsk9 knockout mice.Our findings strongly suggest that in silico screening of small molecules that inhibit the protein-protein interaction between PCSK9 and the LDLR is a potential modality for developing hypercholesterolemia therapeutics.
Project description:Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) plays a major role in cholesterol homeostasis through enhanced degradation of the LDL receptor (LDLR) in liver. As novel inhibitors/silencers of PCSK9 are now being tested in clinical trials to treat hypercholesterolemia, it is crucial to define the physiological consequences of the lack of PCSK9 in various organs. LDLR regulation by PCSK9 has not been extensively described during mouse brain development and injury. Herein, we show that PCSK9 and LDLR are co-expressed in mouse brain during development and at adulthood. Although the protein levels of LDLR and apolipoprotein E (apoE) in the adult brain of Pcsk9(-/-) mice are similar to those of wild-type (WT) mice, LDLR levels increased and were accompanied by a reduction of apoE levels during development. This suggests that the upregulation of LDLR protein levels in Pcsk9(-/-) mice enhances apoE degradation. Upon ischemic stroke, PCSK9 was expressed in the dentate gyrus between 24 h and 72 h following brain reperfusion. Although mouse behavior and lesion volume were similar, LDLR protein levels dropped ?2-fold less in the Pcsk9(-/-)-lesioned hippocampus, without affecting apoE levels and neurogenesis. Thus, PCSK9 downregulates LDLR levels during brain development and following transient ischemic stroke in adult mice.
Project description:CETP inhibitors block the transfer of cholesteryl ester from HDL-C to VLDL-C and LDL-C, thereby raising HDL-C and lowering LDL-C. In this study, we explored the effect of CETP inhibitors on hepatic LDL receptor (LDLR) and PCSK9 expression and further elucidated the underlying regulatory mechanism.We first examined the effect of anacetrapib (ANA) and dalcetrapib (DAL) on LDLR and PCSK9 expression in hepatic cells in vitro. ANA exhibited a dose-dependent inhibition on both LDLR and PCSK9 expression in CETP-positive HepG2 cells and human primary hepatocytes as well as CETP-negative mouse primary hepatocytes (MPH). Moreover, the induction of LDLR protein expression by rosuvastatin in MPH was blunted by cotreatment with ANA. In both HepG2 and MPH ANA treatment reduced the amount of mature form of SREBP2 (SREBP2-M). In vivo, oral administration of ANA to dyslipidemic C57BL/6J mice at a daily dose of 50 mg/kg for 1 week elevated serum total cholesterol by approximately 24.5% (p < 0.05%) and VLDL-C by 70% (p < 0.05%) with concomitant reductions of serum PCSK9 and liver LDLR/SREBP2-M protein. Finally, we examined the in vitro effect of two other strong CETP inhibitors evacetrapib and torcetrapib on LDLR/PCSK9 expression and observed a similar inhibitory effect as ANA in a concentration range of 1-10 ?M.Our study revealed an unexpected off-target effect of CETP inhibitors that reduce the mature form of SREBP2, leading to attenuated transcription of hepatic LDLR and PCSK9. This negative regulation of SREBP pathway by ANA manifested in mice where CETP activity was absent and affected serum cholesterol metabolism.
Project description:Circulating lipid concentrations are among the strongest modifiable risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD). Most genetic studies have focused on Caucasian populations with little information available for populations of African ancestry. Using a cohort of ~2800 African-Americans (AAs) from a biobank at Vanderbilt University (BioVU), we sought to trans-ethnically replicate genetic variants reported by the Global Lipids Genetics Consortium to be associated with lipid traits in Caucasians, followed by fine-mapping those loci using all available variants on the MetaboChip. In AAs, we replicated one of 56 SNPs for total cholesterol (TC) (rs6511720 in LDLR, P=2.15 × 10-8), one of 63 SNPs for high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (rs3764261 in CETP, P=1.13 × 10-5), two of 46 SNPs for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) (rs629301 in CELSR2/SORT1, P=1.11 × 10-5 and rs6511720 in LDLR, P=2.47 × 10-5) and one of 34 SNPs for TG (rs645040 in MSL2L1, P=4.29 × 10-4). Using all available variants on MetaboChip for fine mapping, we identified additional variants associated with TC (APOE), HDL-C (LPL and CETP) and LDL-C (APOE). Furthermore, we identified two loci significantly associated with non-HDL-C: APOE/APOC1/TOMM40 and PCSK9. In conclusion, the genetic architecture of lipid traits in AAs differs substantially from that in Caucasians and it remains poorly characterized.
Project description:Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) promotes atherosclerosis by increasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels through degradation of hepatic LDL receptor (LDLR). Studies have described the systemic effects of PCSK9 on atherosclerosis, but whether PCSK9 has local and direct effects on the plaque is unknown. To study the local effect of human PCSK9 (hPCSK9) on atherosclerotic lesion composition, independently of changes in serum cholesterol levels, we generated chimeric mice expressing hPCSK9 exclusively from macrophages, using marrow from hPCSK9 transgenic (hPCSK9tg) mice transplanted into apoE(-/-) and LDLR(-/-) mice, which were then placed on a high-fat diet (HFD) for 8 weeks. We further characterized the effect of hPCSK9 expression on the inflammatory responses in the spleen and by mouse peritoneal macrophages (MPM) in vitro. We found that MPMs from transgenic mice express both murine (m) Pcsk9 and hPCSK9 and that the latter reduces macrophage LDLR and LRP1 surface levels. We detected hPCSK9 in the serum of mice transplanted with hPCSK9tg marrow, but did not influence lipid levels or atherosclerotic lesion size. However, marrow-derived PCSK9 progressively accumulated in lesions of apoE(-/-) recipient mice, while increasing the infiltration of Ly6C(hi) inflammatory monocytes by 32% compared with controls. Expression of hPCSK9 also increased CD11b- and Ly6C(hi) -positive cell numbers in spleens of apoE(-/-) mice. In vitro, expression of hPCSK9 in LPS-stimulated macrophages increased mRNA levels of the pro-inflammatory markers Tnf and Il1b (40% and 45%, respectively) and suppressed those of the anti-inflammatory markers Il10 and Arg1 (30% and 44%, respectively). All PCSK9 effects were LDLR-dependent, as PCSK9 protein was not detected in lesions of LDLR(-/-) recipient mice and did not affect macrophage or splenocyte inflammation. In conclusion, PCSK9 directly increases atherosclerotic lesion inflammation in an LDLR-dependent but cholesterol-independent mechanism, suggesting that therapeutic PCSK9 inhibition may have vascular benefits secondary to LDL reduction.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Hypercholesterolemia is a complex trait, resulting from a genetic interaction with lifestyle habits. Polymorphisms are a major source of genetic heterogeneity, and variations in 2 key cholesterol homeostasis genes; low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) and proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type-9 (PCSK9), lead to dyslipidemia. So, we investigated the relation of 2 variants located in the 3'-UTR (3'-untranslated region) of LDLR (rs14158, G>A) and PCSK9 (rs17111557, C>T) with lipid profile and atorvastatin response. METHODS:SNP influence on lipid profile was assessed in hypercholesterolemic patients (HC; n = 89) using atorvastatin (10 mg/day/4 weeks) and in normolipidemic subjects (NL; n = 171). Genotyping was completed through real-time PCR using TaqMan assays. RESULTS:rs14158 G allele was higher in HC than in NL group (P = 0.043). NL subjects carrying the T allele of the PCSK9 variant had lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) than C allele carriers (P = 0.009). There was no association between LDLR and PCSK9 SNPs and atorvastatin response. Additionally, the PCSK9 variant creates a microRNA interaction site, which could implicate an epigenetic mechanism in PCSK9-dependent HDL-C regulation. CONCLUSIONS:The rs14158 SNP contributes to hypercholesterolemia. Also, a putative microRNA regulation may influence HDL-C variability observed in rs17111557 carriers. Cholesterol-lowering response to atorvastatin is not influenced by LDLR and PCSK9 variants.