Apolipoprotein E4 Domain Interaction Accelerates Diet-Induced Atherosclerosis in Hypomorphic Arg-61 Apoe Mice
Objective—Apolipoprotein (apo) E4 is an established risk factor for atherosclerosis, but the structural components underlying this association remain unclear. ApoE4 is characterized by 2 biophysical properties: domain interaction and molten globule state. Substituting Arg-61 for Thr-61 in mouse apoE introduces domain interaction without molten globule state, allowing us to delineate potential proatherogenic effects of domain interaction in vivo.
Methods and Results—We studied atherosclerosis susceptibility of hypomorphic Apoe mice expressing either Thr-61 or Arg-61 apoE (ApoeTh/h or ApoeRh/h mice). On a chow diet, both mouse models were normolipidemic with similar levels of plasma apoE and lipoproteins. However, on a high-cholesterol diet, ApoeRh/h mice displayed increased levels of total plasma cholesterol and very-low-density lipoprotein as well as larger atherosclerotic plaques in the aortic root, arch, and descending aorta compared with ApoeTh/h mice. In addition, evidence of cellular dysfunction was identified in peritoneal ApoeRh/h macrophages which released lower amounts of apoE in culture medium and displayed increased expression of major histocompatibility complex class II molecules.
Conclusion—These data indicate that domain interaction mediates proatherogenic effects of apoE4 in part by modulating lipoprotein metabolism and macrophage biology. Pharmaceutical targeting of domain interaction could lead to new treatments for atherosclerosis in apoE4 individuals.
- Received November 8, 2011.
- Accepted February 23, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.