Individuals with the rs671 SNP in the gene encoding aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD); however, it has been unclear if this mutation contributes to CVD development. In this issue of the JCI, Zhong et al. perform an elegant set of experiments that reveal a pathway wherein the ALDH2 rs671 mutant is phosphorylated by AMPK and translocates to the nucleus where it represses the transcription of a lysosomal H+ pump subunit that is critical for lipid degradation and foam cell formation, as occurs in atherosclerosis. The discovery of this pathway may explain how subjects harboring ALDH2 rs671 are at a greater risk for numerous other disease states and thereby provide new targets for therapeutic intervention.
Andrew A. Gibb, John W. Elrod