Apolipoprotein B-100 has a crucial structural role in the formation of VLDL and LDL. Familial hypobetalipoproteinemia, a syndrome in which the concentration of LDL cholesterol in plasma is abnormally low, can be caused by mutations in the apo B gene that prevent the translation of a full-length apo B-100 molecule. Prior studies have revealed that truncated species of apo B [e.g., apo B-37 (1728 amino acids), apo B-46 (2057 amino acids)] can occasionally be identified in the plasma of subjects with familial hypobetalipoproteinemia; in each of these cases, the truncated apo B species has been a prominent protein component of VLDL. In this report, we describe a kindred with hypobetalipoproteinemia in which the plasma of four affected heterozygotes contained a unique truncated apo B species, apo B-31. Apolipoprotein B-31 is caused by the deletion of a single nucleotide in the apo B gene, and it is predicted to contain 1425 amino acids. Apolipoprotein B-31 is the shortest of the mutant apo B species to be identified in the plasma of a subject with hypobetalipoproteinemia. In contrast to longer truncated apo B species, apo B-31 was undetectable in the VLDL and the LDL; however, it was present in the HDL fraction and the lipoprotein-deficient fraction of plasma. The density distribution of apo B-31 in the plasma suggests the possibility that the amino-terminal 1425 amino acids of apo B-100 are sufficient to permit the formation and secretion of small, dense lipoproteins but are inadequate to support the formation of the more lipid-rich VLDL and LDL particles.
S G Young, S T Hubl, R S Smith, S M Snyder, J F Terdiman