Adenoviral-mediated expression of Pcsk9 in mice results in a low-density lipoprotein receptor knockout phenotype.
ABSTRACT: 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:Proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin 9 (PCSK9) is a member of the subtilisin serine protease family with an important role in cholesterol metabolism. PCSK9 expression is regulated by dietary cholesterol in mice and cellular sterol levels in cell culture via the sterol regulatory element binding protein transcription factors, and mutations in PCSK9 are associated with a form of autosomal dominant hypercholesterolemia. Overexpression of PCSK9 in mice leads to increased total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels because of a decrease in hepatic LDL receptor (LDLR) protein with normal mRNA levels. To study the mechanism, PCSK9 was overexpressed in human hepatoma cells, HepG2, by adenovirus. Overexpression of PCSK9 in HepG2 cells caused a decrease in whole-cell and cell-surface LDLR levels. PCSK9 overexpression had no effect on LDLR synthesis but caused a dramatic increase in the degradation of the mature LDLR and a lesser increase in the degradation of the precursor LDLR. In contrast, overexpression of a catalytically inactive mutant PCSK9 prevented the degradation of the mature LDLR; whereas increased degradation of the precursor LDLR still occurred. The PCSK9-induced degradation of the LDLR was not affected by inhibitors of the proteasome, lysosomal cysteine proteases, aspartic acid proteases, or metalloproteases. The PCSK9-induced degradation of the LDLR was shown to require transport out of the endoplasmic reticulum. These results indicate that overexpression of PCSK9 induces the degradation of the LDLR by a nonproteasomal mechanism in a post-endoplasmic reticulum compartment.
Project description:PCSK9 encodes proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9a (PCSK9), a member of the proteinase K subfamily of subtilases. Missense mutations in PCSK9 cause an autosomal dominant form of hypercholesterolemia in humans, likely due to a gain-of-function mechanism because overexpression of either WT or mutant PCSK9 reduces hepatic LDL receptor protein (LDLR) in mice. Here, we show that livers of knockout mice lacking PCSK9 manifest increased LDLR protein but not mRNA. Increased LDLR protein led to increased clearance of circulating lipoproteins and decreased plasma cholesterol levels (46 mg/dl in Pcsk9(-/-) mice versus 96 mg/dl in WT mice). Statins, a class of drugs that inhibit cholesterol synthesis, increase expression of sterol regulatory element-binding protein-2 (SREBP-2), a transcription factor that activates both the Ldlr and Pcsk9 genes. Statin administration to Pcsk9(-/-) mice produced an exaggerated increase in LDLRs in liver and enhanced LDL clearance from plasma. These data demonstrate that PCSK9 regulates the amount of LDLR protein in liver and suggest that inhibitors of PCSK9 may act synergistically with statins to enhance LDLRs and reduce plasma cholesterol.
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:Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin-9 (PCSK9) enhances the degradation of hepatic low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR). Deletion of PCSK9, and loss-of-function mutants in humans result in lower levels of circulating LDL-cholesterol and a strong protection against coronary heart disease. Accordingly, the quest for PCSK9 inhibitors has major clinical implications. We have previously identified annexin A2 (AnxA2) as an endogenous binding partner and functional inhibitor of PCSK9. Herein, we studied the relevance of AnxA2 in PCSK9 inhibition and lipid metabolism in vivo. Plasma analyses of AnxA2(-/-) mice revealed: i) a ?1.4-fold increase in LDL-cholesterol without significant changes in VLDLs or HDLs, and ii) a ?2-fold increase in circulating PCSK9 levels. Western blotting and immunohistochemistry of AnxA2(-/-) tissues revealed that the LDLR was decreased by ?50% in extrahepatic tissues, such as adrenals and colon. We also show that AnxA2-derived synthetic peptides block the PCSK9?LDLR interaction in vitro, and adenoviral overexpression of AnxA2 in mouse liver increases LDLR protein levels in vivo. These results suggest that AnxA2 acts as an endogenous regulator of LDLR degradation, mostly in extrahepatic tissues. Finally, we identified an AnxA2 coding polymorphism, V98L, that correlates with lower circulating levels of PCSK9 thereby extending our results on the physiological role of AnxA2 in humans.
Project description:Proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9 (PCSK9), the last member of the family of Proprotein Convertases related to Subtilisin and Kexin, regulates LDL-cholesterol by promoting the endosomal/lysosomal degradation of the LDL receptor (LDLR). Herein, we show that the LDLR cell surface levels dramatically increase in the liver and pancreatic islets of PCSK9 KO male but not female mice. In contrast, in KO female mice, the LDLR is more abundant at the cell surface enterocytes, as is the VLDL receptor (VLDLR) at the cell surface of adipocytes. Ovariectomy of KO female mice led to a typical KO male pattern, whereas 17?-estradiol (E2) treatment restored the female pattern without concomitant changes in LDLR adaptor protein 1 (also known as ARH), disabled-2, or inducible degrader of the LDLR expression levels. We also show that this E2-mediated regulation, which is observed only in the absence of PCSK9, is abolished upon feeding the mice a high-cholesterol diet. The latter dramatically represses PCSK9 expression and leads to high surface levels of the LDLR in the hepatocytes of all sexes and genotypes. In conclusion, the absence of PCSK9 results in a sex- and tissue-specific subcellular distribution of the LDLR and VLDLR, which is determined by E2 levels.
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:Recently, we showed in APOE*3-Leiden cholesteryl ester transfer protein (E3L.CETP) mice that anacetrapib attenuated atherosclerosis development by reducing (V)LDL cholesterol [(V)LDL-C] rather than by raising HDL cholesterol. Here, we investigated the mechanism by which anacetrapib reduces (V)LDL-C and whether this effect was dependent on the inhibition of CETP. E3L.CETP mice were fed a Western-type diet alone or supplemented with anacetrapib (30 mg/kg body weight per day). Microarray analyses of livers revealed downregulation of the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway (P < 0.001) and predicted downregulation of pathways controlled by sterol regulatory element-binding proteins 1 and 2 (z-scores -2.56 and -2.90, respectively; both P < 0.001). These data suggest increased supply of cholesterol to the liver. We found that hepatic proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (Pcsk9) expression was decreased (-28%, P < 0.01), accompanied by decreased plasma PCSK9 levels (-47%, P < 0.001) and increased hepatic LDL receptor (LDLr) content (+64%, P < 0.01). Consistent with this, anacetrapib increased the clearance and hepatic uptake (+25%, P < 0.001) of [(14)C]cholesteryl oleate-labeled VLDL-mimicking particles. In E3L mice that do not express CETP, anacetrapib still decreased (V)LDL-C and plasma PCSK9 levels, indicating that these effects were independent of CETP inhibition. We conclude that anacetrapib reduces (V)LDL-C by two mechanisms: 1) inhibition of CETP activity, resulting in remodeled VLDL particles that are more susceptible to hepatic uptake; and 2) a CETP-independent reduction of plasma PCSK9 levels that has the potential to increase LDLr-mediated hepatic remnant clearance.
Project description:Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) regulates serum LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) by interacting with the LDL receptor (LDLR) and is an attractive therapeutic target for LDL-C lowering. We have generated a neutralizing anti-PCSK9 antibody, mAb1, that binds to an epitope on PCSK9 adjacent to the region required for LDLR interaction. In vitro, mAb1 inhibits PCSK9 binding to the LDLR and attenuates PCSK9-mediated reduction in LDLR protein levels, thereby increasing LDL uptake. A combination of mAb1 with a statin increases LDLR levels in HepG2 cells more than either treatment alone. In wild-type mice, mAb1 increases hepatic LDLR protein levels approximately 2-fold and lowers total serum cholesterol by up to 36%: this effect is not observed in LDLR(-/-) mice. In cynomolgus monkeys, a single injection of mAb1 reduces serum LDL-C by 80%, and a significant decrease is maintained for 10 days. We conclude that anti-PCSK9 antibodies may be effective therapeutics for treating hypercholesterolemia.
Project description:Recent findings in molecular biology implicate the involvement of proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) in low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) protein regulation. The cholesterol-lowering potential of anti-PCSK9 antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) modified with bridged nucleic acids (BNA-AONs) including 2',4'-BNA (also called as locked nucleic acid (LNA)) and 2',4'-BNA(NC) chemistries were demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo. An in vitro transfection study revealed that all of the BNA-AONs induce dose-dependent reductions in PCSK9 messenger RNA (mRNA) levels concomitantly with increases in LDLR protein levels. BNA-AONs were administered to atherogenic diet-fed C57BL/6J mice twice weekly for 6 weeks; 2',4'-BNA-AON that targeted murine PCSK9 induced a dose-dependent reduction in hepatic PCSK9 mRNA and LDL cholesterol (LDL-C); the 43% reduction of serum LDL-C was achieved at a dose of 20?mg/kg/injection with only moderate increases in toxicological indicators. In addition, the serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels increased. These results support antisense inhibition of PCSK9 as a potential therapeutic approach. When compared with 2',4'-BNA-AON, 2',4'-BNA(NC)-AON showed an earlier LDL-C-lowering effect and was more tolerable in mice. Our results validate the optimization of 2',4'-BNA(NC)-based anti-PCSK9 antisense molecules to produce a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia.
Project description:Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) modulates low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor (LDLR) degradation, thus influencing serum cholesterol levels. However, dysfunctional LDLR causes hypercholesterolemia without affecting PCSK9 clearance from the circulation.To study the reciprocal effects of PCSK9 and LDLR and the resultant effects on serum cholesterol, we produced transgenic mice expressing human (h) PCSK9. Although hPCSK9 was expressed mainly in the kidney, LDLR degradation was more evident in the liver. Adrenal LDLR levels were not affected, likely because of the impaired PCSK9 retention in this tissue. In addition, hPCSK9 expression increased hepatic secretion of apolipoprotein B-containing lipoproteins in an LDLR-independent fashion. Expression of hPCSK9 raised serum murine PCSK9 levels by 4.3-fold in wild-type mice and not at all in LDLR(-/-) mice, in which murine PCSK9 levels were already 10-fold higher than in wild-type mice. In addition, LDLR(+/-) mice had a 2.7-fold elevation in murine PCSK9 levels and no elevation in cholesterol levels. Conversely, acute expression of human LDLR in transgenic mice caused a 70% decrease in serum murine PCSK9 levels. Turnover studies using physiological levels of hPCSK9 showed rapid clearance in wild-type mice (half-life, 5.2 minutes), faster clearance in human LDLR transgenics (2.9 minutes), and much slower clearance in LDLR(-/-) recipients (50.5 minutes). Supportive results were obtained with an in vitro system. Finally, up to 30% of serum hPCSK9 was associated with LDL regardless of LDLR expression.Our results support a scenario in which LDLR represents the main route of elimination of PCSK9 and a reciprocal regulation between these 2 proteins controls serum PCSK9 levels, hepatic LDLR expression, and serum LDL levels.