Genetic and Functional Analyses of Patients with Marked Hypo-High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterolemia

J Atheroscler Thromb. 2024 Mar 28. doi: 10.5551/jat.64579. Online ahead of print.


Aim: This study aimed to analyze two cases of marked hypo-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterolemia to identify mutations in ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) and elucidate the molecular mechanism by which these novel pathological mutations contribute to hypo-HDL cholesterolemia in Tangier disease.

Methods: Wild type and mutant expression plasmids containing a FLAG tag inserted at the C-terminus of the human ABCA1 gene were generated and transfected into HEK293T cells. ABCA1 protein expression and cholesterol efflux were evaluated via Western blotting and efflux assay. The difference in the rate of change in protein expression was evaluated when proteolytic and protein-producing systems were inhibited.

Results: In case 1, a 20-year-old woman presented with a chief complaint of gait disturbance. Her HDL-C level was only 6.2 mg/dL. Tangier disease was suspected because of muscle weakness, decreased nerve conduction velocity, and splenomegaly. Whole-exome analysis showed compound heterozygosity for a W484* nonsense mutation and S1343I missense mutation, which confirmed Tangier disease. Cholesterol efflux decreased by a mixture of W484* and S1343I mutations. The S1343I mutation decreased the protein production rate but increased the degradation rate, decreasing the protein levels. This patient also had Krabbe disease. The endogenous ABCA1 protein level of macrophage cell decreased by knocking down its internal galactocerebrosidase.Case 2, a 51-year-old woman who underwent tonsillectomy presented with peripheral neuropathy, corneal opacity, and HDL-C of 3.4 mg/dL. Whole-exome analysis revealed compound heterozygosity for R579* and R1572* nonsense mutations, which confirmed Tangier disease.

Conclusion: Case 1 is a new ABCA1 mutation with complex pathogenicity, namely, a W484*/S1343I compound heterozygote with marked hypo-HDL cholesterolemia. Analyses of the compound heterozygous mutations indicated that decreases in ABCA1 protein levels and cholesterol efflux activity caused by the novel S1343I mutation combined with loss of W484* protein activity could lead to marked hypo-HDL cholesterolemia. Galactocerebrosidase dysfunction could also be a potential confounding factor for ABCA1 protein function.

Keywords: ABCA1; Cholesterol efflux; HDL; Tangier disease.