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Lipid-apolipoprotein interactions in amyloid fibril formation and relevance to atherosclerosis

Howlett, Geoffrey J., Ryan, Timothy M., Griffin, Michael D.W.
Biochimica et biophysica acta 2019 v.1867 no.5 pp. 502-507
amyloid, apolipoproteins, atherosclerosis, humans, micelles, phospholipids, surfactants
The apolipoprotein family is a set of highly conserved proteins characterized by the presence of amphipathic α-helical sequences that mediate lipid binding. Paradoxically, this family of proteins is also prominent among the proteins known to form amyloid fibrils, characterized by extensive cross-β structure. Several apolipoproteins including apolipoprotein (apo) A-I, apoA-II and apoC-II accumulate in amyloid deposits of atherosclerotic lesions. This review illustrates the role of lipid-apolipoprotein interactions in apolipoprotein folding and aggregation with a specific focus on human apoC-II, a well-studied member of the family. In the presence of high concentrations of micellar lipid mimetics apoC-II adopts a stable and predominantly α-helical structure, similar to other members of the family and presumed to be the structure of apoC-II in circulating plasma lipoproteins. In contrast, lipid-free apoC-II aggregates to form long amyloid fibrils with a twisted ribbon-like morphology. Detailed structural analyses identify a letter G-like conformation as the basic building block within these fibrils. Phospholipids at submicellar concentrations accelerate apoC-II fibril formation by promoting the formation of a discrete tetrameric intermediate. Conversely, several small molecule lipid-mimetics inhibit apoC-II fibril formation at submicellar concentrations, inducing well-defined dimers unable to further aggregate. Finally, low concentrations of phospholipid micelles and bilayers induce the slow formation of amyloid fibrils with distinct rod-like fibril morphology. These studies highlight the diversity of lipid effects on apolipoprotein amyloid formation and reveal a conformational adaptability that could underlie the widespread occurrence of apolipoproteins in amyloid deposits and atheroma.