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1.  Association Analysis of Allelic Variants of USF1 in Coronary Atherosclerosis 
USF1 regulates the transcription of more than 40 cardiovascular related genes and is well established as a gene associated with familial combined hyperlipidemia, a condition increasing the risk for coronary heart disease. No detailed data, however, exists on the impact of this gene to the critical outcome at the tissue level: different types of atherosclerotic lesions.
Methods and Results
We analyzed the USF1 in 2 autopsy series of altogether 700 middle-aged men (the Helsinki Sudden Death Study) with quantitative morphometric measurements of coronary atherosclerosis. SNP rs2516839, tagging common USF1 haplotypes, associated with the presence of several types of atherosclerotic lesions, particularly with the proportion of advanced atherosclerotic plaques (P=0.02) and area of calcified lesions (P<0.001) of the coronary arteries. Importantly, carriers of risk alleles of rs2516839 also showed a 2-fold risk for sudden cardiac death (genotype TT versus CC; OR 2.10, 95% CI 1.17 to 3.75, P=0.04). The risk effect of rs2516839 was present also in aorta samples of the men.
Our findings in this unique study sample suggest that USF1 contributes to atherosclerosis, the pathological arterial wall phenotype resulting in coronary heart disease and in its most dramatic consequence—sudden cardiac death.
PMCID: PMC2687549  PMID: 18276913
atherosclerosis; coronary; genes; genetics; death; sudden
2.  Upstream Transcription Factor 1 (USF1) allelic variants regulate lipoprotein metabolism in women and USF1 expression in atherosclerotic plaque 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4650.
Upstream transcription factor 1 (USF1) allelic variants significantly influence future risk of cardiovascular disease and overall mortality in females. We investigated sex-specific effects of USF1 gene allelic variants on serum indices of lipoprotein metabolism, early markers of asymptomatic atherosclerosis and their changes during six years of follow-up. In addition, we investigated the cis-regulatory role of these USF1 variants in artery wall tissues in Caucasians. In the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, 1,608 participants (56% women, aged 31.9 ± 4.9) with lipids and cIMT data were included. For functional study, whole genome mRNA expression profiling was performed in 91 histologically classified atherosclerotic samples. In females, serum total, LDL cholesterol and apoB levels increased gradually according to USF1 rs2516839 genotypes TT < CT < CC and rs1556259 AA < AG < GG as well as according to USF1 H3 (GCCCGG) copy number 0 < 1 < 2. Furthermore, the carriers of minor alleles of rs2516839 (C) and rs1556259 (G) of USF1 gene had decreased USF1 expression in atherosclerotic plaques (P = 0.028 and 0.08, respectively) as compared to non-carriers. The genetic variation in USF1 influence USF1 transcript expression in advanced atherosclerosis and regulates levels and metabolism of circulating apoB and apoB-containing lipoprotein particles in sex-dependent manner, but is not a major determinant of early markers of atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3983598  PMID: 24722012
3.  Gene-Gene Interaction between APOA5 and USF1: Two Candidate Genes for the Metabolic Syndrome 
Obesity Facts  2009;2(4):235-242.
The metabolic syndrome, a major cluster of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, shows increasing prevalence worldwide. Several studies have established associations of both apolipoprotein A5 (APOA5) gene variants and upstream stimulatory factor 1 (USF1) gene variants with blood lipid levels and metabolic syndrome. USF1 is a transcription factor for APOA5.
We investigated a possible interaction between these two genes on the risk for the metabolic syndrome, using data from the German population-based KORA survey 4 (1,622 men and women aged 55–74 years). Seven APOA5 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were analyzed in combination with six USF1 SNPs, applying logistic regression in an additive model adjusting for age and sex and the definition for metabolic syndrome from the National Cholesterol Education Program's Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP (AIII)) including medication.
The overall prevalence for metabolic syndrome was 41%. Two SNP combinations showed a nominal gene-gene interaction (p values 0.024 and 0.047). The effect of one SNP was modified by the other SNP, with a lower risk for the metabolic syndrome with odds ratios (ORs) between 0.33 (95% CI = 0.13–0.83) and 0.40 (95% CI = 0.15–1.12) when the other SNP was homozygous for the minor allele. Nevertheless, none of the associations remained significant after correction for multiple testing.
Thus, there is an indication of an interaction between APOA5 and USF1 on the risk for metabolic syndrome.
PMCID: PMC2919429  PMID: 20054229
Metabolic syndrome; Cardiovascular risk; SNP; APOA5; USF1
4.  Risk Alleles of USF1 Gene Predict Cardiovascular Disease of Women in Two Prospective Studies 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(5):e69.
Upstream transcription factor 1 (USF1) is a ubiquitously expressed transcription factor controlling several critical genes in lipid and glucose metabolism. Of some 40 genes regulated by USF1, several are involved in the molecular pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although the USF1 gene has been shown to have a critical role in the etiology of familial combined hyperlipidemia, which predisposes to early CVD, the gene's potential role as a risk factor for CVD events at the population level has not been established. Here we report the results from a prospective genetic–epidemiological study of the association between the USF1 variants, CVD, and mortality in two large Finnish cohorts. Haplotype-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms exposing all common allelic variants of USF1 were genotyped in a prospective case-cohort design with two distinct cohorts followed up during 1992–2001 and 1997–2003. The total number of follow-up years was 112,435 in 14,140 individuals, of which 2,225 were selected for genotyping based on the case-cohort study strategy. After adjustment for conventional risk factors, we observed an association of USF1 with CVD and mortality among females. In combined analysis of the two cohorts, female carriers of a USF1 risk haplotype had a 2-fold risk of a CVD event (hazard ratio [HR] 2.02; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.16–3.53; p = 0.01) and an increased risk of all-cause mortality (HR 2.52; 95% CI 1.46–4.35; p = 0.0009). A putative protective haplotype of USF1 was also identified. Our study shows how a gene identified in exceptional families proves to be important also at the population level, implying that allelic variants of USF1 significantly influence the prospective risk of CVD and even all-cause mortality in females.
Better characterization of molecular events resulting in cardiovascular disease (CVD) requires elucidation of genetic background of CVD. After a CVD candidate gene is identified in family-based studies or case-control studies, population-based prospective studies are needed to demonstrate any potential impact of allelic variants on the CVD risk at the population level. This study addresses the role of different alleles of the upstream transcription factor 1 (USF1) gene, encoding a transcription factor and originally associated with familial combined hyperlipidemia in rare families with multiple affected individuals. The product of USF1 regulates numerous genes of lipid and glucose metabolism, and the authors show in large population cohorts that specific alleles of USF1 are associated with the risk of CVD and all-cause mortality among females. The study implies an interesting female-specific risk effect, and should stimulate additional studies of the sex-specific CVD risk genes in different populations.
PMCID: PMC1458962  PMID: 16699592
5.  The rs2516839 Polymorphism of the USF1 Gene May Modulate Serum Triglyceride Levels in Response to Cigarette Smoking 
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the USF1 gene (upstream stimulatory factor 1) influence plasma lipid levels. This study aims to determine whether USF1 SNPs interact with traditional risk factors of atherosclerosis to increase coronary artery disease (CAD) risk. In the present study serum lipid levels and USF1 gene polymorphisms (rs2516839 and rs3737787) were determined in 470 subjects: 235 patients with premature CAD and 235 controls. A trend of increasing triglycerides (TG) levels in relation to the C allele dose of rs2516839 SNP was observed. The synergistic effect of cigarette smoking and C allele carrier state on CAD risk was also found (SIM = 2.69, p = 0.015). TG levels differentiated significantly particular genotypes in smokers (1.53 mmol/L for TT, 1.80 mmol/L for CT and 2.27 mmol/L for CC subjects). In contrast, these differences were not observed in the non-smokers subgroup (1.57 mmol/L for TT, 1.46 mmol/L for CT and 1.49 mmol/L for CC subjects). In conclusion, the rs2516839 polymorphism may modulate serum triglyceride levels in response to cigarette smoking. Carriers of the C allele seem to be particularly at risk of CAD, when exposed to cigarette smoking.
PMCID: PMC4490492  PMID: 26068452
USF1; polymorphism; cigarette smoking; CAD; triglycerides; gene-traditional risk factors interactions
6.  The WWOX Gene Modulates HDL and Lipid Metabolism 
Low high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) constitutes a major risk factor for atherosclerosis. Recent studies from our group reported a genetic association between the WW domain-containing oxidoreductase (WWOX) gene and HDL-C levels. Here, through next-generation resequencing, in vivo functional studies and gene microarray analyses, we investigated the role of WWOX in HDL and lipid metabolism.
Methods and Results
Using next-generation resequencing of the WWOX region, we first identified 8 variants significantly associated and perfectly segregating with the low-HDL trait in two multi-generational French Canadian dyslipidemic families. To understand in vivo functions of WWOX, we used liver-specific Wwoxhep−/− and total Wwox−/− mice models, where we found decreased ApoA-I and ABCA1 levels in hepatic tissues. Analyses of lipoprotein profiles in Wwox−/−, but not Wwox hep−/− littermates, also showed marked reductions in serum HDL-C concentrations, concordant with the low-HDL findings observed in families. We next obtained evidence of a gender-specific effect in female Wwoxhep−/− mice, where an increase in plasma triglycerides and altered lipid metabolic pathways by microarray analyses were observed. We further identified a significant reduction in ApoA-I and LPL, and upregulation in Fas, Angptl4 and Lipg, suggesting that the effects of Wwox involve multiple pathways, including cholesterol homeostasis, ApoA-I/ABCA1 pathway, and fatty acid biosynthesis/triglyceride metabolism.
Our data indicate that WWOX disruption alters HDL and lipoprotein metabolism through several mechanisms and may account for the low-HDL phenotype observed in families expressing the WWOX variants. These findings thus describe a novel gene involved in cellular lipid homeostasis, which effects may impact atherosclerotic disease development.
PMCID: PMC4315188  PMID: 24871327
high-density lipoprotein cholesterol; gene; lipids and lipoprotein metabolism; gene expression/regulation; cardiovascular disease; WWOX; ApoA-I; ABCA1
7.  Candidate genetic analysis of plasma high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol and severity of coronary atherosclerosis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:111.
Plasma level of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), a heritable trait, is an important determinant of susceptibility to atherosclerosis. Non-synonymous and regulatory single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes implicated in HDL-C synthesis and metabolism are likely to influence plasma HDL-C, apolipoprotein A-I (apo A-I) levels and severity of coronary atherosclerosis.
We genotyped 784 unrelated Caucasian individuals from two sets of populations (Lipoprotein and Coronary Atherosclerosis Study- LCAS, N = 333 and TexGen, N = 451) for 94 SNPs in 42 candidate genes by 5' nuclease assays. We tested the distribution of the phenotypes by the Shapiro-Wilk normality test. We used Box-Cox regression to analyze associations of the non-normally distributed phenotypes (plasma HDL-C and apo A-I levels) with the genotypes. We included sex, age, body mass index (BMI), diabetes mellitus (DM), and cigarette smoking as covariates. We calculated the q values as indicators of the false positive discovery rate (FDR).
Plasma HDL-C levels were associated with sex (higher in females), BMI (inversely), smoking (lower in smokers), DM (lower in those with DM) and SNPs in APOA5, APOC2, CETP, LPL and LIPC (each q ≤0.01). Likewise, plasma apo A-I levels, available in the LCAS subset, were associated with SNPs in CETP, APOA5, and APOC2 as well as with BMI, sex and age (all q values ≤0.03). The APOA5 variant S19W was also associated with minimal lumen diameter (MLD) of coronary atherosclerotic lesions, a quantitative index of severity of coronary atherosclerosis (q = 0.018); mean number of coronary artery occlusions (p = 0.034) at the baseline and progression of coronary atherosclerosis, as indicated by the loss of MLD.
Putatively functional variants of APOA2, APOA5, APOC2, CETP, LPL, LIPC and SOAT2 are independent genetic determinants of plasma HDL-C levels. The non-synonymous S19W SNP in APOA5 is also an independent determinant of plasma apo A-I level, severity of coronary atherosclerosis and its progression.
PMCID: PMC2775733  PMID: 19878569
8.  Upstream Stimulatory Factors 1 and 2 Mediate the Transcription of Angiotensin II Binding and Inhibitory Protein* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(26):19238-19249.
Background: Regulation of angiotensin II type 1 receptor-interacting and inhibitory protein (ATRAP/Agtrap) is important in pathophysiology.
Results: Gene knockdown in cells and unilateral ureteral obstruction in mice indicate that Usf1 decreases and Usf2 increases Agtrap expression.
Conclusion: Interplay between E-box and Usf1/Usf2 is important for Agtrap regulation.
Significance: A strategy of modulating the E-box-Usf1/Usf2 interaction may have novel therapeutic potential.
The angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R)-associated protein (ATRAP/Agtrap) promotes constitutive internalization of the AT1R so as to specifically inhibit the pathological activation of its downstream signaling yet preserve the base-line physiological signaling activity of the AT1R. Thus, tissue-specific regulation of Agtrap expression is relevant to the pathophysiology of cardiovascular and renal disease. However, the regulatory mechanism of Agtrap gene expression has not yet been fully elucidated. In this study, we show that the proximal promoter region from −150 to +72 of the mouse Agtrap promoter, which contains the X-box, E-box, and GC-box consensus motifs, is able to elicit substantial transcription of the Agtrap gene. Among these binding motifs, we showed that the E-box specifically binds upstream stimulatory factor (Usf) 1 and Usf2, which are known E-box-binding transcription factors. It is indicated that the E-box-Usf1/Usf2 binding regulates Agtrap expression because of the following: 1) mutation of the E-box to prevent Usf1/Usf2 binding reduces Agtrap promoter activity; 2) knockdown of Usf1 or Usf2 affects both endogenous Agtrap mRNA and Agtrap protein expression, and 3) the decrease in Agtrap mRNA expression in the afflicted kidney by unilateral ureteral obstruction is accompanied by changes in Usf1 and Usf2 mRNA. Furthermore, the results of siRNA transfection in mouse distal convoluted tubule cells and those of unilateral ureteral obstruction in the afflicted mouse kidney suggest that Usf1 decreases but Usf2 increases the Agtrap gene expression by binding to the E-box. The results also demonstrate a functional E-box-USF1/USF2 interaction in the human AGTRAP promoter, thereby suggesting that a strategy of modulating the E-box-USF1/USF2 binding has novel therapeutic potential.
PMCID: PMC3696694  PMID: 23653383
Angiotensin; Gene Transcription; Receptors; Renin Angiotensin System; Transcription Regulation; Distal Tubule
9.  A Systems Genetics Approach Implicates USF1, FADS3, and Other Causal Candidate Genes for Familial Combined Hyperlipidemia 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(9):e1000642.
We hypothesized that a common SNP in the 3' untranslated region of the upstream transcription factor 1 (USF1), rs3737787, may affect lipid traits by influencing gene expression levels, and we investigated this possibility utilizing the Mexican population, which has a high predisposition to dyslipidemia. We first associated rs3737787 genotypes in Mexican Familial Combined Hyperlipidemia (FCHL) case/control fat biopsies, with global expression patterns. To identify sets of co-expressed genes co-regulated by similar factors such as transcription factors, genetic variants, or environmental effects, we utilized weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA). Through WGCNA in the Mexican FCHL fat biopsies we identified two significant Triglyceride (TG)-associated co-expression modules. One of these modules was also associated with FCHL, the other FCHL component traits, and rs3737787 genotypes. This USF1-regulated FCHL-associated (URFA) module was enriched for genes involved in lipid metabolic processes. Using systems genetics procedures we identified 18 causal candidate genes in the URFA module. The FCHL causal candidate gene fatty acid desaturase 3 (FADS3) was associated with TGs in a recent Caucasian genome-wide significant association study and we replicated this association in Mexican FCHL families. Based on a USF1-regulated FCHL-associated co-expression module and SNP rs3737787, we identify a set of causal candidate genes for FCHL-related traits. We then provide evidence from two independent datasets supporting FADS3 as a causal gene for FCHL and elevated TGs in Mexicans.
Author Summary
By integrating a genetic polymorphism with genome-wide gene expression levels, we were able to attribute function to a genetic polymorphism in the USF1 gene. The USF1 gene has previously been associated with a common dyslipidemia, FCHL. FCHL is characterized by elevated levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, or both. We demonstrate that this genetic polymorphism in USF1 contributes to FCHL disease risk by modulating the expression of a group of genes functionally related to lipid metabolism, and that this modulation is mediated by USF1. One of the genes whose expression is modulated by USF1 is FADS3, which was also implicated in a recent genome-wide association study for lipid traits. We demonstrated that a genetic polymorphism from the FADS3 region, which was associated with triglycerides in a GWAS study of Caucasians, was also associated with triglycerides in Mexican FCHL families. Our analysis provides novel insight into the gene expression profile contributing to FCHL disease risk, and identifies FADS3 as a new gene for FCHL in Mexicans.
PMCID: PMC2730565  PMID: 19750004
10.  Effects of native and myeloperoxidase-modified apolipoprotein A-I on reverse cholesterol transport and atherosclerosis in mice 
Preclinical and clinical studies have shown beneficial effects of infusions of apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I) on atherosclerosis. ApoA-I is also a target for myeloperoxidase (MPO)-mediated oxidation, leading in vitro to a loss of its ability to promote ABCA1-dependent macrophage cholesterol efflux. Therefore, we hypothesized that MPO-mediated ApoA-I oxidation would impair its promotion of reverse cholesterol transport (RCT) in vivo and the beneficial effects on atherosclerotic plaques.
Approach and Results
ApoA-I−/− or ApoE−/− mice were subcutaneously injected with native human ApoA-I, oxidized human ApoA-I (oxApoAI; MPO/hydrogen peroxide/chloride treated) or carrier. While early post injection (8 hours) levels of total ApoA-I in plasma were similar for native versus oxApoA-I, native ApoA-I primarily resided within the HDL fraction, whereas the majority of oxApoA-I was highly cross-linked and not HDL particle associated, consistent with impaired ABCA1 interaction. In ApoA-I−/− mice, ApoA-I oxidation significantly impaired RCT in vivo. In advanced aortic root atherosclerotic plaques of ApoE−/− mice, native ApoA-I injections led to significant decreases in lipid content, macrophage number, and an increase in collagen content; in contrast, oxApoA-I failed to mediate these changes. The decrease in plaque macrophages with native ApoA-I was accompanied by significant induction of their chemokine receptor CCR7. Furthermore, only native ApoA-I injections led to a significant reduction of inflammatory M1 and increase in anti-inflammatory M2 macrophage markers in the plaques.
MPO-mediated oxidation renders ApoA-I dysfunctional and unable to: (i) promote RCT; (ii) mediate beneficial changes in the composition of atherosclerotic plaques; and (iii) pacify the inflammatory status of plaque macrophages.
PMCID: PMC3966977  PMID: 24407029
Atherosclerosis; ApoA-I; Myeloperoxidase; Dysfunctional HDL; Reverse Cholesterol Transport
11.  The Function and Distribution of Apolipoprotein A1 in the Artery Wall are Markedly Distinct from those in Plasma 
Circulation  2013;128(15):10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.002624.
Prior studies show apolipoprotein A1 (apoA1) recovered from human atherosclerotic lesions is highly oxidized. Ex vivo oxidation of apoA1 or high density lipoprotein (HDL) cross-links apoA1 and impairs lipid binding, cholesterol efflux and lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) activities of the lipoprotein. Remarkably, no studies to date directly quantify either the function or HDL particle distribution of apoA1 recovered from the human artery wall.
Methods and Results
A monoclonal antibody (mAb 10G1.5) was developed that equally recognizes lipid-free and HDL-associated apoA1 in both native and oxidized forms. Examination of homogenates of atherosclerotic plaque-laden aorta showed >100-fold enrichment of apoA1 compared to normal aorta (P<0.001). Surprisingly, buoyant density fractionation revealed only a minority (<3% of total) of apoA1 recovered from either lesions or normal aorta resides within an HDL-like particle (1.063 ≤ d ≤ 1.21). In contrast, the majority (>90%) of apoA1 within aortic tissue (normal and lesions) was recovered within the lipoprotein-depleted fraction (d>1.21). Moreover, both lesion and normal artery wall apoA1 is highly cross-linked (50–70% of total), and functional characterization of apoA1 quantitatively recovered from aorta using mAb 10G1.5 showed ~80% lower cholesterol efflux activity and ~90% lower LCAT activity relative to circulating apoA1.
The function and distribution of apoA1 in human aorta are quite distinct from those found in plasma. The lipoprotein is markedly enriched within atherosclerotic-plaque, predominantly lipid-poor, not associated with HDL, extensively oxidatively cross-linked, and functionally impaired.
PMCID: PMC3882895  PMID: 23969698
plaque; apolipoproteins; arteriosclerosis; cardiovascular diseases
12.  Insulin-Mediated Down-Regulation of Apolipoprotein A5 Gene Expression through the Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase Pathway: Role of Upstream Stimulatory Factor 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(4):1537-1548.
The apolipoprotein A5 gene (APOA5) has been repeatedly implicated in lowering plasma triglyceride levels. Since several studies have demonstrated that hyperinsulinemia is associated with hypertriglyceridemia, we sought to determine whether APOA5 is regulated by insulin. Here, we show that cell lines and mice treated with insulin down-regulate APOA5 expression in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, we found that insulin decreases human APOA5 promoter activity, and subsequent deletion and mutation analyses uncovered a functional E box in the promoter. Electrophoretic mobility shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that this APOA5 E box binds upstream stimulatory factors (USFs). Moreover, in transfection studies, USF1 stimulates APOA5 promoter activity, and the treatment with insulin reduced the binding of USF1/USF2 to the APOA5 promoter. The inhibition of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway abolished insulin's effect on APOA5 gene expression, while the inhibition of the P70 S6 kinase pathway with rapamycin reversed its effect and increased APOA5 gene expression. Using an oligonucleotide precipitation assay for USF from nuclear extracts, we demonstrate that phosphorylated USF1 fails to bind to the APOA5 promoter. Taken together, these data indicate that insulin-mediated APOA5 gene transrepression could involve a phosphorylation of USFs through the PI3K and P70 S6 kinase pathways that modulate their binding to the APOA5 E box and results in APOA5 down-regulation. The effect of exogenous hyperinsulinemia in men showed a decrease in the plasma ApoAV level. These results suggest a potential contribution of the APOA5 gene in hypertriglyceridemia associated with hyperinsulinemia.
PMCID: PMC548024  PMID: 15684402
13.  Human Apolipoprotein A-I Natural Variants: Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Amyloidogenic Propensity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43755.
Human apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I)-derived amyloidosis can present with either wild-type (Wt) protein deposits in atherosclerotic plaques or as a hereditary form in which apoA-I variants deposit causing multiple organ failure. More than 15 single amino acid replacement amyloidogenic apoA-I variants have been described, but the molecular mechanisms involved in amyloid-associated pathology remain largely unknown. Here, we have investigated by fluorescence and biochemical approaches the stabilities and propensities to aggregate of two disease-associated apoA-I variants, apoA-IGly26Arg, associated with polyneuropathy and kidney dysfunction, and apoA-ILys107-0, implicated in amyloidosis in severe atherosclerosis. Results showed that both variants share common structural properties including decreased stability compared to Wt apoA-I and a more flexible structure that gives rise to formation of partially folded states. Interestingly, however, distinct features appear to determine their pathogenic mechanisms. ApoA-ILys107-0 has an increased propensity to aggregate at physiological pH and in a pro-inflammatory microenvironment than Wt apoA-I, whereas apoA-IGly26Arg elicited macrophage activation, thus stimulating local chronic inflammation. Our results strongly suggest that some natural mutations in apoA-I variants elicit protein tendency to aggregate, but in addition the specific interaction of different variants with macrophages may contribute to cellular stress and toxicity in hereditary amyloidosis.
PMCID: PMC3429494  PMID: 22952757
14.  Vasculoprotective Effects of Apolipoprotein Mimetic Peptides: An Evolving Paradigm In Hdl Therapy (Vascular Disease Prevention, In Press.) 
Vascular disease prevention  2009;6:122-130.
Anti-atherogenic effects of high density lipoprotein (HDL) and its major protein component apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) are principally thought to be due to their ability to mediate reverse cholesterol transport. These agents also possess anti-oxidant properties that prevent the oxidative modification of low density lipoprotein (LDL) and anti-inflammatory properties that include inhibition of endothelial cell adhesion molecule expression. Results of the Framingham study revealed that a reduction in HDL levels is an independent risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD). Accordingly, there has been considerable interest in developing new therapies that specifically elevate HDL cholesterol. However, recent evidence suggests that increasing circulating HDL cholesterol levels alone is not sufficient as a mode of HDL therapy. Rather, therapeutic approaches that increase the functional properties of HDL may be superior to simply raising the levels of HDL per se. Our laboratory has pioneered the development of synthetic, apolipoprotein mimetic peptides which are structurally and functionally similar to apoA-I but possess unique structural homology to the lipid-associating domains of apoA-I. The apoA-I mimetic peptide 4F inhibits atherogenic lesion formation in murine models of atherosclerosis. This effect is related to the ability of 4F to induce the formation of pre-β HDL particles that are enriched in apoA-I and paraoxonase. 4F also possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that are independent of its effect on HDL quality per se. Recent studies suggest that 4F stimulates the expression of the antioxidant enzymes heme oxygenase and superoxide dismutase and inhibits superoxide anion formation in blood vessels of diabetic, hypercholesterolemic and sickle cell disease mice. The goal of this review is to discuss HDL-dependent and -independent mechanisms by which apoA-I mimetic peptides reduce vascular injury in experimental animal models.
PMCID: PMC2806689  PMID: 20084185
keywords: ApoA-I; HDL; mimetic peptides; CAD risk; atherosclerosis; endothelial function
15.  Effect of apolipoprotein A1 genetic polymorphisms on lipid profiles and the risk of coronary artery disease 
Diagnostic Pathology  2015;10:102.
The disorder of lipid metabolism and genetic predisposition are major risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD). Variants in the apolipoprotein A1 (APOA1) gene play an important role in the regulation of lipids. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effect of two polymorphisms (-75 G/A and +83 C/T) of APOA1 on lipid profiles and the risk of CAD.
A total number of 300 subjects with CAD and 300 age and sex matched healthy controls were enrolled for the study. Genotyping of the APOA1 was performed by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) combined with gel electrophoresis, and then confirmed by direct sequencing.
The frequencies of APOA1 -75 AA genotype [odds ratio (OR) =0.50, 95 % confidence interval (CI) = 0.28, 0.88; P = 0.02] and APOA1 -75 A allele (OR =0.76, 95 % CI = 0.59, 0.98; P = 0.04) were significantly lower in CAD than in controls. The APOA1 -75 A allele was significantly associated with increasing serum concentrations of ApoA1 and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (P < 0.001).
The individuals with the APOA1 -75 A allele were likely to have a lower risk of CAD as a result of its effect on higher serum concentrations of ApoA1 and HDL-C.
PMCID: PMC4502599  PMID: 26173491
Apolipoprotein A1; Gene polymorphism; Coronary artery disease; Lipid
16.  An abundant dysfunctional apolipoprotein A1 in human atheroma 
Nature medicine  2014;20(2):193-203.
Recent studies indicate high density lipoproteins (HDL) and their major structural protein, apolipoprotein A1 (apoA1), recovered from human atheroma, are dysfunctional and extensively oxidized by myeloperoxidase (MPO), while in vitro oxidation of apoA1/HDL by MPO impairs its cholesterol acceptor function. We developed a high affinity monoclonal antibody (mAb) that specifically recognizes apoA1/HDL modified by the MPO/H2O2/Cl-system using phage display affinity maturation. An oxindolyl alanine (2-OH-Trp) moiety at tryptophan 72 of apoA1 is the immunogenic epitope. Mutagenesis studies confirm a critical role for apoA1 Trp72 in MPO-mediated inhibition of ABCA1-dependent cholesterol acceptor activity of apoA1 in vitro and in vivo. ApoA1 containing a 2-OH-Trp72 group (oxTrp72-apoA1) is in low abundance within the circulation, but accounts for 20% of the apoA1 in atherosclerotic plaque. OxTrp72-apoA1 recovered from human atheroma or plasma was lipid-poor, virtually devoid of cholesterol acceptor activity, and demonstrated both potent pro-inflammatory activities on endothelial cells and impaired HDL biogenesis activity in vivo. Elevated oxTrp72-apoA1 levels in subjects presenting to a cardiology clinic (n=627) were associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk. Circulating oxTrp72-apoA1 levels may serve as a way to monitor a pro-atherogenic process in the artery wall.
PMCID: PMC3923163  PMID: 24464187
17.  Pegylation of HDL Decreases Plasma Clearance and Enhances Anti-Atherogenic Activity 
Circulation research  2013;113(1):e1-e9.
Infusions of apoA-I, mimetic peptides or HDL remain a promising approach to treatment of atherosclerotic coronary disease. However, rapid clearance leads to a requirement for repeated administration of large amounts of material and limits effective plasma concentrations.
Since pegylation of purified proteins is commonly used as a method to increase their half-life in the circulation, we determined whether pegylation of apoA-I or HDL would increase its plasma half-life and in turn its anti-atherogenic potential.
Methods and Results
Initial pegylation attempts using lipid-poor apoA-I showed a marked tendency to form multi-pegylated (PEG) species with reduced ability to promote cholesterol efflux from macrophage foam cells. However, pegylation of human holo-HDL or reconstituted phospholipid/apoA-I particles (rHDL) led to selective N-terminal mono-pegylation of apoA-I with full preservation of cholesterol efflux activity. The plasma clearance of PEG-rHDL was estimated following injection into hypercholesterolemic Apoe−/− mice; the half-life of pegylated apoA-I following injection of PEG-rHDL was increased about 7-fold compared to apoA-I in non-pegylated rHDL. Compared to non-pegylated rHDL, infusion of PEG-rHDL (40 mg/kg) into hypercholesterolemic Apoe−/− mice led to more pronounced suppression of bone marrow myeloid progenitor cell proliferation and monocytosis, as well as reduced atherosclerosis and a stable plaque phenotype.
We describe a novel method for effective mono-pegylation of apoA-I in HDL particles, in which lipid binding appears to protect against pegylation of key functional residues. Pegylation of apoA-I in rHDL markedly increases its plasma half-life and enhances anti-atherogenic properties in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3905798  PMID: 23613182
HDL; apoA-I; atherosclerosis; hematopoiesis; cholesterol
18.  Comparison of High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol to Apolipoprotein A-I and A-II to Predict Coronary Calcium and the Effect of Insulin Resistance 
The American journal of cardiology  2011;107(3):393-398.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and its apolipoproteins each capture unique lipid and cardiometabolic information important to risk quantification. It was hypothesized that metabolic factors, including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, would confound the association of HDL cholesterol with coronary artery calcification (CAC) and that apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) and/or apolipoprotein A-II (apoA-II) would add to HDL cholesterol in predicting CAC. Two community-based cross-sectional studies of white subjects were analyzed: the Penn Diabetes Heart Study (PDHS; n = 611 subjects with type 2 diabetes, 71.4% men) and the Study of Inherited Risk of Coronary Atherosclerosis (SIRCA; n = 803 subjects without diabetes, 52.8% men) using multivariable analysis of apoA-I, apoA-II, and HDL cholesterol stratified by diabetes status. HDL cholesterol was inversely associated with CAC after adjusting for age and gender in whites with type 2 diabetes (tobit ratio for a 1-SD increase in HDL cholesterol 0.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.44 to 0.77, p <0.001) as well as those without diabetes (tobit ratio 0.72, 95% CI 0.59 to 0.88, p = 0.001). In contrast, apoA-I was a weaker predictor in subjects with (tobit ratio 0.64, 95% CI 0.45 to 0.90, p = 0.010) and without (tobit ratio 0.79, 95% CI 0.66 to 0.94, p = 0.010) diabetes, while apoA-II had no association with CAC. Control for metabolic variables, including triglycerides, waist circumference, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, attenuated these relations, particularly in subjects without diabetes. In likelihood ratio test analyses, HDL cholesterol added to apoA-I, apoA-II, and atherogenic apolipoprotein B lipoproteins but improved CAC prediction over metabolic factors only in subjects with diabetes. In conclusion, HDL cholesterol outperformed apoA-I and apoA-II in CAC prediction, but its association with CAC was attenuated by measures of insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3086062  PMID: 21257004
19.  Expression of sterol regulatory element-binding transcription factor (SREBF) 2 and SREBF cleavage-activating protein (SCAP) in human atheroma and the association of their allelic variants with sudden cardiac death 
Thrombosis Journal  2008;6:17.
Disturbed cellular cholesterol homeostasis may lead to accumulation of cholesterol in human atheroma plaques. Cellular cholesterol homeostasis is controlled by the sterol regulatory element-binding transcription factor 2 (SREBF-2) and the SREBF cleavage-activating protein (SCAP). We investigated whole genome expression in a series of human atherosclerotic samples from different vascular territories and studied whether the non-synonymous coding variants in the interacting domains of two genes, SREBF-2 1784G>C (rs2228314) and SCAP 2386A>G, are related to the progression of coronary atherosclerosis and the risk of pre-hospital sudden cardiac death (SCD).
Whole genome expression profiling was completed in twenty vascular samples from carotid, aortic and femoral atherosclerotic plaques and six control samples from internal mammary arteries. Three hundred sudden pre-hospital deaths of middle-aged (33–69 years) Caucasian Finnish men were subjected to detailed autopsy in the Helsinki Sudden Death Study. Coronary narrowing and areas of coronary wall covered with fatty streaks or fibrotic, calcified or complicated lesions were measured and related to the SREBF-2 and SCAP genotypes.
Whole genome expression profiling showed a significant (p = 0.02) down-regulation of SREBF-2 in atherosclerotic carotid plaques (types IV-V), but not in the aorta or femoral arteries (p = NS for both), as compared with the histologically confirmed non-atherosclerotic tissues. In logistic regression analysis, a significant interaction between the SREBF-2 1784G>C and the SCAP 2386A>G genotype was observed on the risk of SCD (p = 0.046). Men with the SREBF-2 C allele and the SCAP G allele had a significantly increased risk of SCD (OR 2.68, 95% CI 1.07–6.71), compared to SCAP AA homologous subjects carrying the SREBF-2 C allele. Furthermore, similar trends for having complicated lesions and for the occurrence of thrombosis were found, although the results were not statistically significant.
The results suggest that the allelic variants (SREBF-2 1784G>C and SCAP 2386A>G) in the cholesterol homeostasis regulating SREBF-SCAP pathway may contribute to SCD in early middle-aged men.
PMCID: PMC2645360  PMID: 19116028
20.  Association between lipid genetic and immunological status in chronically HIV-infected patients 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19555.
Polymorphisms in some host genes have a significant impact on susceptibility to HIV-1 infection and rate of disease progression [1, 2]. The purpose of the current sub-study was to find out the relationship between polymorphisms in genes involved in the lipid metabolism and the CD4/CD8 T-cell counts.
Sub-study of a cross-sectional, observational study conducted in 468 patients with HIV infection attended at the outpatient clinic to investigate individual genetic predisposition to atherogenic dyslipidemia (AD). All patients were genetically characterized and all polymorphisms were in Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. Thirteen polymorphisms were selected from nine genes: APOA5 (rs662799 and rs3135506); APOC3 (rs5128 and rs4520); LPL (rs328 and rs268); CETP (rs708272); HL (rs1800588); MTP (rs1800591); APOE (rs7412 and rs429358); LRP5 (rs7116604); and VLDLR (rs1454626). Lipid and lipoprotein parameters, CD4 and CD8 T-cell counts and plasma HIV-RNA were determinate. The statistical analysis was performed using SPSS statistical software version 19 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA).
We studied 468 HIV-infected patients (men, 77%), with a mean (SD) age of 45.9 (19.7) years. The mean CD4 T-cell count and nadir CD4 was 547 (459) and 193 (159) cells/µL, respectively; 78.7% of participants were virologically suppressed. Patients carrying rs3135506 in the APOA5 gene presented a 9% increase in circulating TG levels (p=0.002) and 10% decrease in HDLc levels (p=0.005). Such association of APOA5 towards dyslipidemia was accompanied by a 21% decrease of the CD4 T-cell count (p=0.024) and a 19% increase in CD8 T-cell count (p=0.002) in carriers of the rare allele in the APOA5 rs662799 polymorphism adjusted by age and gender. Patients carrying the rare allele in rs5128 (APOC3) had a 16% decrease in circulating CD4 T cells (p=0.029); patients carrying rs1800591 (MTP) had a 29% decrease in CD4 T cells and 14% decrease in CD8 T cells (p=0.018 and p=0.008, respectively); patients carrying the rare allele rs1800588 in HL had a 11% increase in CD4 T cells (p=0.043); and carriers of the rs145626 in the VLDLR gene had 10% decrease in CD4 circulating T cells (p=0.013).
Variants in genes involved in the development of AD may also influence the immunological host–virus equilibrium in chronically HIV-infected subjects [2, 3].
PMCID: PMC4224882  PMID: 25394062
21.  A general integrative genomic feature transcription factor binding site prediction method applied to analysis of USF1 binding in cardiovascular disease 
Human genomics  2009;3(3):221-235.
Transcription factors are key mediators of human complex disease processes. Identifying the target genes of transcription factors will increase our understanding of the biological network leading to disease risk. The prediction of transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) is one method to identify these target genes; however, current prediction methods need improvement. We chose the transcription factor upstream stimulatory factor 1 (USF1) to evaluate the performance of our novel TFBS prediction method because of its known genetic association with coronary artery disease (CAD) and the recent availability of USF1 chromatin immunoprecipitation microarray (ChIP-chip) results. The specific goals of our study were to develop a novel and accurate genome-scale method for predicting USF1 binding sites and associated target genes to aid in the study of CAD. Previously published USF1 ChIP-chip data for 1 per cent of the genome were used to develop and evaluate several kernel logistic regression prediction models. A combination of genomic features (phylogenetic conservation, regulatory potential, presence of a CpG island and DNaseI hypersensitivity), as well as position weight matrix (PWM) scores, were used as variables for these models. Our most accurate predictor achieved an area under the receiver operator characteristic curve of 0.827 during cross-validation experiments, significantly outperforming standard PWM-based prediction methods. When applied to the whole human genome, we predicted 24,010 USF1 binding sites within 5 kilobases upstream of the transcription start site of 9,721 genes. These predictions included 16 of 20 genes with strong evidence of USF1 regulation. Finally, in the spirit of genomic convergence, we integrated independent experimental CAD data with these USF1 binding site prediction results to develop a prioritised set of candidate genes for future CAD studies. We have shown that our novel prediction method, which employs genomic features related to the presence of regulatory elements, enables more accurate and efficient prediction of USF1 binding sites. This method can be extended to other transcription factors identified in human disease studies to help further our understanding of the biology of complex disease.
PMCID: PMC2742312  PMID: 19403457
transcription factors; cardiovascular disease; human genetics; binding site prediction
22.  A general integrative genomic feature transcription factor binding site prediction method applied to analysis of USF1 binding in cardiovascular disease 
Human Genomics  2009;3(3):221-235.
Transcription factors are key mediators of human complex disease processes. Identifying the target genes of transcription factors will increase our understanding of the biological network leading to disease risk. The prediction of transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) is one method to identify these target genes; however, current prediction methods need improvement. We chose the transcription factor upstream stimulatory factor l (USF1) to evaluate the performance of our novel TFBS prediction method because of its known genetic association with coronary artery disease (CAD) and the recent availability of USF1 chromatin immunoprecipitation microarray (ChIP-chip) results. The specific goals of our study were to develop a novel and accurate genome-scale method for predicting USF1 binding sites and associated target genes to aid in the study of CAD. Previously published USF1 ChIP-chip data for 1 per cent of the genome were used to develop and evaluate several kernel logistic regression prediction models. A combination of genomic features (phylogenetic conservation, regulatory potential, presence of a CpG island and DNaseI hypersensitivity), as well as position weight matrix (PWM) scores, were used as variables for these models. Our most accurate predictor achieved an area under the receiver operator characteristic curve of 0.827 during cross-validation experiments, significantly outperforming standard PWM-based prediction methods. When applied to the whole human genome, we predicted 24,010 USF1 binding sites within 5 kilobases upstream of the transcription start site of 9,721 genes. These predictions included 16 of 20 genes with strong evidence of USF1 regulation. Finally, in the spirit of genomic convergence, we integrated independent experimental CAD data with these USF1 binding site prediction results to develop a prioritised set of candidate genes for future CAD studies. We have shown that our novel prediction method, which employs genomic features related to the presence of regulatory elements, enables more accurate and efficient prediction of USF1 binding sites. This method can be extended to other transcription factors identified in human disease studies to help further our understanding of the biology of complex disease.
PMCID: PMC2742312  PMID: 19403457
transcription factors; cardiovascular disease; human genetics; binding site prediction
23.  Genetic studies on the APOA1-C3-A5 gene cluster in Asian Indians with premature coronary artery disease 
The APOA1-C3-A5 gene cluster plays an important role in the regulation of lipids. Asian Indians have an increased tendency for abnormal lipid levels and high risk of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). Therefore, the present study aimed to elucidate the relationship of four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the Apo11q cluster, namely the -75G>A, +83C>T SNPs in the APOA1 gene, the Sac1 SNP in the APOC3 gene and the S19W variant in the APOA5 gene to plasma lipids and CAD in 190 affected sibling pairs (ASPs) belonging to Asian Indian families with a strong CAD history.
Methods & results
Genotyping and lipid assays were carried out using standard protocols. Plasma lipids showed a strong heritability (h2 48% – 70%; P < 0.0001). A subset of 77 ASPs with positive sign of Logarithm of Odds (LOD) score showed significant linkage to CAD trait by multi-point analysis (LOD score 7.42, P < 0.001) and to Sac1 (LOD score 4.49) and -75G>A (LOD score 2.77) SNPs by single-point analysis (P < 0.001). There was significant proportion of mean allele sharing (pi) for the Sac1 (pi 0.59), -75G>A (pi 0.56) and +83C>T (pi 0.52) (P < 0.001) SNPs, respectively. QTL analysis showed suggestive evidence of linkage of the Sac1 SNP to Total Cholesterol (TC), High Density Lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) and Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) with LOD scores of 1.42, 1.72 and 1.19, respectively (P < 0.01). The Sac1 and -75G>A SNPs along with hypertension showed maximized correlations with TC, TG and Apo B by association analysis.
The APOC3-Sac1 SNP is an important genetic variant that is associated with CAD through its interaction with plasma lipids and other standard risk factors among Asian Indians.
PMCID: PMC2556320  PMID: 18801202
24.  Amyloidogenic Mutations in Human Apolipoprotein A-I are not Necessarily Destabilizing: A Common Mechanism of ApoA-I Misfolding in Familial Amyloidosis and Atherosclerosis 
The FEBS journal  2014;281(11):2525-2542.
High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) and their major protein, apoA-I, remove excess cellular cholesterol and protect against atherosclerosis. However, in acquired amyloidosis, non-variant full-length apoA-I deposits as fibrils in atherosclerotic plaques; in familial amyloidosis, N-terminal fragments of variant apoA-I deposit in vital organs damaging them. Recently, we used the crystal structure of Δ(185-243)apoA-I to propose that amyloidogenic mutations destabilize apoA-I and increase solvent exposure of the extended strand 44-55 that initiates β-aggregation. Here we test this hypothesis by exploring naturally occurring human amyloidogenic mutations, W50R and G26R, within or close to this strand. The mutations caused small changes in the protein’s α-helical content, stability, proteolytic pattern, and protein-lipid interactions. These changes alone were unlikely to account for amyloidosis, suggesting the importance of other factors. Sequence analysis predicted several amyloid-prone segments that can initiate apoA-I misfolding. Aggregation studies using N-terminal fragments experimentally verified this prediction. Three predicted N-terminal amyloid-prone segments, mapped on the crystal structure, formed an α-helical cluster. Structural analysis indicates that amyloidogenic mutations or Met86 oxidation perturb native packing in this cluster. Together, the results suggest that structural perturbations in the amyloid-prone segments trigger α-helix-to-β-sheet conversion in the N-terminal ~75 residues forming the amyloid core. Polypeptide outside this core can be proteolysed to form 9-11 kDa N-terminal fragments found in familial amyloidosis. Our results imply that apoA-I misfolding in familial and acquired amyloidosis follows a similar mechanism that does not require significant structural destabilization or proteolysis. This novel mechanism suggests potential therapeutic interventions for apoA-I amyloidosis.
PMCID: PMC4047191  PMID: 24702826
High-density lipoprotein; α-helix to β-sheet conversion; amyloid self-recognition elements or “hot spots”; apoA-I oxidation and proteolysis; triglyceride reduction therapies
25.  Triglyceride associated polymorphisms of the APOA5 gene have very different allele frequencies in Pune, India compared to Europeans 
BMC Medical Genetics  2006;7:76.
The APOA5 gene variants, -1131T>C and S19W, are associated with altered triglyceride concentrations in studies of subjects of Caucasian and East Asian descent. There are few studies of these variants in South Asians. We investigated whether the two APOA5 variants also show similar association with various lipid parameters in Indian population as in the UK white subjects.
We genotyped 557 Indian adults from Pune, India, and 237 UK white adults for -1131T>C and S19W variants in the APOA5 gene, compared their allelic and genotype frequency and determined their association with fasting serum triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL and LDL cholesterol levels using univariate general linear analysis. APOC3 SstI polymorphism was also analyzed in 175 Pune Indian subjects for analysis of linkage disequilibrium with the APOA5 variants.
The APOA5 -1131C allele was more prevalent in Indians from Pune (Pune Indians) compared to UK white subjects (allele frequency 20% vs. 4%, p = 0.00001), whereas the 19W allele was less prevalent (3% vs. 6% p = 0.0015). Patterns of linkage disequilibrium between the two variants were similar between the two populations and confirmed that they occur on two different haplotypes. In Pune Indians, the presence of -1131C allele and the 19W allele was associated with a 19% and 15% increase respectively in triglyceride concentrations although only -1131C was significant (p = 0.0003). This effect size was similar to that seen in the UK white subjects. Analysis of the APOC3 SstI polymorphism in 175 Pune Indian subjects showed that this variant is not in appreciable linkage disequilibrium with the APOA5 -1131T>C variant (r2 = 0.07).
This is the first study to look at the role of APOA5 in Asian Indian subjects that reside in India. The -1131C allele is more prevalent and the 19W allele is less prevalent in Pune Indians compared to UK Caucasians. We confirm that the APOA5 variants are associated with triglyceride levels independent of ethnicity and that this association is similar in magnitude in Asian Indians and Caucasians. The -1131C allele is present in 36% of the Pune Indian population making it a powerful marker for looking at the role of elevated triglycerides in important conditions such as pancreatitis, diabetes and coronary heart disease.
PMCID: PMC1618828  PMID: 17032446

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