Site-specific mutagenesis of human apolipoprotein E. Receptor binding activity of variants with single amino acid substitutions

J Biol Chem. 1988 Mar 15;263(8):3542-5.


Apolipoprotein (apo) E, an important protein involved in cholesterol transport in the plasma, binds with high specificity and high affinity to the apoB, E (low density lipoprotein) receptor. Several lines of evidence have indicated that key basic residues in the vicinity of residues 140-160 of apoE are important in mediating binding to the receptor. Furthermore, apoE variants exhibiting defective receptor binding are associated with the genetic lipid disorder type III hyperlipoproteinemia. To determine whether other basic amino acids in this region of apoE also affect receptor binding activity, site-specific mutagenesis of apoE in a bacterial expression system was undertaken. This system had been used successfully to produce apoE3 that was structurally and functionally equivalent to human plasma apoE3. Variants of apoE in which neutral amino acids were substituted for basic residues at positions 136, 140, 143, and 150 were produced. The variants all displayed defective binding; their activity ranged from 9 to 52% of normal (a range similar to that seen with naturally occurring variants of human apoE). In addition, to determine whether the conformation of this region is important for receptor binding, we designed variants in which proline was substituted for leucine 144 or alanine 152. Both variants were defective, exhibiting 13 and 27% of normal binding, respectively. In contrast, a double mutant in which arginine was substituted for serine 139 and alanine for leucine 149 displayed slightly enhanced receptor binding activity. These studies confirm that the middle of the apoE molecule is important in receptor binding and indicate that only certain amino acid substitutions in this region interfere with receptor binding activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acids
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics*
  • Apolipoproteins E / isolation & purification
  • Apolipoproteins E / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Kinetics
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-1
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-1
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Recombinant Proteins