HDL metabolism and atherosclerosis were studied in apo E knockout (KO) mice overexpressing human apo AI, a des- (190-243)-apo AI carboxyl-terminal deletion mutant of human apo AI or an apo AI-(1-189)-apo AII-(12-77) chimera in which the carboxyl-terminal domain of apo AI was substituted with the pair of helices of apo AII. HDL cholesterol levels ranked: apo AI/apo E KO approximately apo AI-(1-189)-apo AII- (12-77)/apo E KO > > des-(190-243)-apo AI/apo E KO > apo E KO mice. Progression of atherosclerosis ranked: apo E KO > des-(190-243)-apo AI/apo E KO > > apo AI-(1-189)- apo AII-(12-77)/apo E KO approximately apo AI/apo E KO mice. Whereas the total capacity to induce cholesterol efflux from lipid-loaded THP-1 macrophages was higher for HDL of mice overexpressing human apo AI or the apo AI/apo AII chimera, the fractional cholesterol efflux rate, expressed in percent cholesterol efflux/microg apolipoprotein/h, for HDL of these mice was similar to that for HDL of mice overexpressing the deletion mutant and for HDL of apo E KO mice. This study demonstrates that the tertiary structure of apo AI, e.g., the number and organization of its helices, and not its amino sequence is essential for protection against atherosclerosis because it determines HDL cholesterol levels and not cholesterol efflux. Amino acid sequences of apo AII, which is considered to be less antiatherogenic, can be used to restore the structure of apo AI and thereby its antiatherogenicity.


P Holvoet, S Danloy, E Deridder, M Lox, H Bernar, A Dhoest, D Collen


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