Familial dysbetalipoproteinemia has been reported to be associated uniquely with an apolipoprotein E phenotype (E2/2) that occurs in approximately 1% of all persons. We have observed the typical clinical and biochemical characteristics of this disorder in five members of a family, in all of whom the apolipoprotein E phenotype, as determined by isoelectric focusing electrophoresis, is E3/3. The disorder is present in three generations of the family: the proband, her mother, and three of the proband's five children. The proband's husband, father of all five children, also has apolipoprotein E phenotype E3/3, as do his two unaffected children. As in normal persons with phenotype E3/3, the apolipoprotein E of affected members appears to have a single residue of cysteine. When incorporated with egg lecithin into discoidal complexes, the apolipoprotein E from affected members was taken up normally into perfused livers of estradiol-treated rats, in which a high level of LDL receptors is expressed. When isoelectric focusing electrophoresis was carried out over a narrow range of pH (5-7), each of the apolipoprotein E isoforms of affected members was observed as a doublet, even after reduction of dimers of the protein with 2-mercaptoethanol and treatment with neuraminidase to minimize the content of sialylated forms of the protein. Doublets were also observed in the apolipoprotein E-2 of patients with classical dysbetalipoproteinemia, but only in the affected members of the family with atypical dysbetalipoproteinemia were the components of the doublets equally prominent. As in classical dysbetalipoproteinemia, both apolipoprotein B-100 and B-48 were present in the very low density lipoprotein fraction of plasma obtained in the postabsorptive state, indicating that remnantlike lipoproteins of both hepatic and intestinal origin accumulate. This observation, together with available evidence on the structural and functional heterogeneity of human apolipoprotein E, lead us to suggest that the disorder in this family is caused by one or two structurally abnormal forms of apolipoprotein E that contain a single residue of cysteine.
R J Havel, L Kotite, J P Kane, P Tun, T Bersot