Abstract 46: Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein Interactions with Lipoproteins: Insights into Mechanisms by Electron Microscopy and Molecular Dynamics Simulation
Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) mediates the transfer of neutral lipids, including cholesteryl esters (CEs) and triglycerides (TGs), between HDL, LDL and VLDL. Lipoprotein particles contain a neutral lipid core composed of CE and TG surrounded by a surface monolayer of phospholipids (PL), free cholesterol (FC), and apolipoproteins, most notably, apo B-100 in LDL and VLDL and apo A-I in HDL. An elevated level of LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) and/or a low level of HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) in human plasma are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Since increased CETP can reduce HDL-C concentration and CETP deficiency is associated with elevated HDL-C levels, CETP inhibitors, including torcetrapib, anacetrapib and dalcetrapib have been investigated in clinical trials for treating CVD. Despite the intense clinical interest in CETP inhibition, little is known concerning the molecular mechanisms of CETP-mediated lipid transfer among lipoproteins, or even how CETP interacts with lipoproteins.
CETP is a hydrophobic glycoprotein of 476 amino acids (∼53 kDa, before posttranslational modification). Its crystal structure reveals a banana-shaped molecule with N- and C-terminal β-barrel domains, a central β-sheet, and a ∼60 Å-long hydrophobic central cavity. Three CETP neutral lipid transfer hypotheses were proposed more than two decades ago: 1) a shuttle mechanism that involves CETP collecting CEs from one lipoprotein and delivering them through the aqueous phase to another lipoprotein; 2) a tunnel mechanism in which CETP bridges two lipoproteins forming a ternary complex, with lipids flowing from the donor to acceptor lipoprotein through the CETP molecule; and 3) a modified tunnel mechanism implicating a CETP dimer.
One difficulty in investigating CETP mechanisms using structural methods is that interaction with CETP can alter the size, shape, and composition of lipoproteins, especially HDL. We validated an optimized negative-staining electron microscopy (NS-EM) protocol in which flash-fixation of lipoprotein particles preserves a near native-state conformation for direct visualization of individual molecular or macromolecular particles. We applied this protocol to study the mechanisms by which CETP interacts with spherical HDL, LDL and VLDL. Three-dimensional (3D) reconstructions of CETP, free and HDL-bound, were obtained by single-particle techniques. In addition, we used inhibitory CETP antibodies to identify the regions of CETP that interact with HDL and LDL. Finally molecular dynamics (MD) simulation was used to assess the molecular mobility of CETP and predict the likely conformational changes that are associated with lipid transfer.
We discovered that CETP bridges a ternary complex with its N-terminal β-barrel domain penetrating into HDL and its C-terminal domain interacting with LDL or VLDL. In our mechanistic model, the CETP lipoprotein-interacting regions, which are highly mobile, form pores that connect to a hydrophobic central cavity, thereby forming a tunnel for transfer of neutral lipids from donor to acceptor lipoproteins. These new insights into CETP transfer provide a molecular basis for analyzing mechanisms for CETP inhibition.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.