In the present study we have used adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of apoA-I (apolipoprotein A-I) mutants in apoA-I−/− mice to investigate how structural mutations in apoA-I affect the biogenesis and the plasma levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein). The natural mutants apoA-I(R151C)Paris, apoA-I(R160L)Oslo and the bioengineered mutant apoA-I(R149A) were secreted efficiently from cells in culture. Their capacity to activate LCAT (lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase) in vitro was greatly reduced, and their ability to promote ABCA1 (ATP-binding cassette transporter A1)-mediated cholesterol efflux was similar to that of WT (wild-type) apoA-I. Gene transfer of the three mutants in apoA-I−/− mice generated aberrant HDL phenotypes. The total plasma cholesterol of mice expressing the apoA-I(R160L)Oslo, apoA-I(R149A) and apoA-I(R151C)Paris mutants was reduced by 78, 59 and 61% and the apoA-I levels were reduced by 68, 64 and 55% respectively, as compared with mice expressing the WT apoA-I. The CE (cholesteryl ester)/TC (total cholesterol) ratio of HDL was decreased and the apoA-I was distributed in the HDL3 region. apoA-I(R160L)Oslo and apoA-I(R149A) promoted the formation of preβ1 and α4-HDL subpopulations and gave a mixture of discoidal and spherical particles. apoA-I(R151C)Paris generated subpopulations of different sizes that migrate between preβ and α-HDL and formed mostly spherical and a few discoidal particles. Simultaneous treatment of mice with adenovirus expressing any of the three mutants and human LCAT normalized plasma apoA-I, HDL cholesterol levels and the CE/TC ratio. It also led to the formation of spherical HDL particles consisting mostly of α-HDL subpopulations of larger size. The correction of the aberrant HDL phenotypes by treatment with LCAT suggests a potential therapeutic intervention for HDL abnormalities that result from specific mutations in apoA-I.

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