Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) binds to the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) at the cell surface and is internalized as a complex with the LDLR. In the acidic milieu of the sorting endosome, PCSK9 remains bound to the LDLR and prevents the LDLR from folding over itself to adopt a closed conformation. As a consequence, the LDLR fails to recycle back to the cell membrane. Even though it is the catalytic domain of PCSK9 that interacts with the LDLR at the cell surface, the structurally disordered segment consisting of residues 31-60 and which is rich in acidic residues, has a negative effect both on autocatalytic cleavage and on the activity of PCSK9 towards the LDLR. Thus, this unstructured segment represents an autoinhibitory domain of PCSK9. One may speculate that post-translational modifications within residues 31-60 may affect the inhibitory activity of this segment, and represent a mechanism for fine-tuning the activity of PCSK9 towards the LDLR. Our data indicate that the inhibitory effect of this unstructured segment results from an interaction with basic residues of the catalytic domain of PCSK9. Mutations in the catalytic domain which involve charged residues, could therefore be gain-of-function mutations by affecting the positioning of this segment.
Keywords: Furin; LDL receptor; Mutation; PCSK9; Prodomain.