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Coessentiality mapping has been useful to systematically cluster genes into biological pathways and identify gene functions. Here, using the debiased sparse partial correlation (DSPC) method, we construct a functional coessentiality map for cellular metabolic processes across human cancer cell lines. This analysis reveals 35 modules associated with known metabolic pathways and further assigns metabolic functions to unknown genes. In particular, we identify C12orf49 as an essential regulator of cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism in mammalian cells. Mechanistically, C12orf49 localizes to the Golgi, binds membrane-bound transcription factor peptidase, site 1 (MBTPS1, site 1 protease) and is necessary for the cleavage of its substrates, including sterol regulatory element binding protein (SREBP) transcription factors. This function depends on the evolutionarily conserved uncharacterized domain (DUF2054) and promotes cell proliferation under cholesterol depletion. Notably, c12orf49 depletion in zebrafish blocks dietary lipid clearance in vivo, mimicking the phenotype of mbtps1 mutants. Finally, in an electronic health record (EHR)-linked DNA biobank, C12orf49 is associated with hyperlipidaemia through phenome analysis. Altogether, our findings reveal a conserved role for C12orf49 in cholesterol and lipid homeostasis and provide a platform to identify unknown components of other metabolic pathways.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >300 loci associated with measures of adiposity including body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (adjusted for BMI, WHRadjBMI), but few have been identified through screening of the African ancestry genomes. We performed large scale meta-analyses and replications in up to 52,895 individuals for BMI and up to 23,095 individuals for WHRadjBMI from the African Ancestry Anthropometry Genetics Consortium (AAAGC) using 1000 Genomes phase 1 imputed GWAS to improve coverage of both common and low frequency variants in the low linkage disequilibrium African ancestry genomes. In the sex-combined analyses, we identified one novel locus (TCF7L2/HABP2) for WHRadjBMI and eight previously established loci at P < 5×10-8: seven for BMI, and one for WHRadjBMI in African ancestry individuals. An additional novel locus (SPRYD7/DLEU2) was identified for WHRadjBMI when combined with European GWAS. In the sex-stratified analyses, we identified three novel loci for BMI (INTS10/LPL and MLC1 in men, IRX4/IRX2 in women) and four for WHRadjBMI (SSX2IP, CASC8, PDE3B and ZDHHC1/HSD11B2 in women) in individuals of African ancestry or both African and European ancestry. For four of the novel variants, the minor allele frequency was low (<5%). In the trans-ethnic fine mapping of 47 BMI loci and 27 WHRadjBMI loci that were locus-wide significant (P < 0.05 adjusted for effective number of variants per locus) from the African ancestry sex-combined and sex-stratified analyses, 26 BMI loci and 17 WHRadjBMI loci contained ≤ 20 variants in the credible sets that jointly account for 99% posterior probability of driving the associations. The lead variants in 13 of these loci had a high probability of being causal. As compared to our previous HapMap imputed GWAS for BMI and WHRadjBMI including up to 71,412 and 27,350 African ancestry individuals, respectively, our results suggest that 1000 Genomes imputation showed modest improvement in identifying GWAS loci including low frequency variants. Trans-ethnic meta-analyses further improved fine mapping of putative causal variants in loci shared between the African and European ancestry populations.
Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) promotes atherosclerosis by increasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels through degradation of hepatic LDL receptor (LDLR). Studies have described the systemic effects of PCSK9 on atherosclerosis, but whether PCSK9 has local and direct effects on the plaque is unknown. To study the local effect of human PCSK9 (hPCSK9) on atherosclerotic lesion composition, independently of changes in serum cholesterol levels, we generated chimeric mice expressing hPCSK9 exclusively from macrophages, using marrow from hPCSK9 transgenic (hPCSK9tg) mice transplanted into apoE(-/-) and LDLR(-/-) mice, which were then placed on a high-fat diet (HFD) for 8 weeks. We further characterized the effect of hPCSK9 expression on the inflammatory responses in the spleen and by mouse peritoneal macrophages (MPM) in vitro. We found that MPMs from transgenic mice express both murine (m) Pcsk9 and hPCSK9 and that the latter reduces macrophage LDLR and LRP1 surface levels. We detected hPCSK9 in the serum of mice transplanted with hPCSK9tg marrow, but did not influence lipid levels or atherosclerotic lesion size. However, marrow-derived PCSK9 progressively accumulated in lesions of apoE(-/-) recipient mice, while increasing the infiltration of Ly6C(hi) inflammatory monocytes by 32% compared with controls. Expression of hPCSK9 also increased CD11b- and Ly6C(hi) -positive cell numbers in spleens of apoE(-/-) mice. In vitro, expression of hPCSK9 in LPS-stimulated macrophages increased mRNA levels of the pro-inflammatory markers Tnf and Il1b (40% and 45%, respectively) and suppressed those of the anti-inflammatory markers Il10 and Arg1 (30% and 44%, respectively). All PCSK9 effects were LDLR-dependent, as PCSK9 protein was not detected in lesions of LDLR(-/-) recipient mice and did not affect macrophage or splenocyte inflammation. In conclusion, PCSK9 directly increases atherosclerotic lesion inflammation in an LDLR-dependent but cholesterol-independent mechanism, suggesting that therapeutic PCSK9 inhibition may have vascular benefits secondary to LDL reduction.
Copyright © 2015 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
A decrease in the activity of proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) increases the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors on liver cells and, therefore, LDL clearance. The clearance of lipids from pathogens is related to endogenous lipid clearance; thus, PCSK9 may also regulate removal of pathogen lipids such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Compared to controls, Pcsk9 knockout mice displayed decreases in inflammatory cytokine production and in other physiological responses to LPS. In human liver cells, PCSK9 inhibited LPS uptake, a necessary step in systemic clearance and detoxification. Pharmacological inhibition of PCSK9 improved survival and inflammation in murine polymicrobial peritonitis. Human PCSK9 loss-of-function genetic variants were associated with improved survival in septic shock patients and a decrease in inflammatory cytokine response both in septic shock patients and in healthy volunteers after LPS administration. The PCSK9 effect was abrogated in LDL receptor (LDLR) knockout mice and in humans who are homozygous for an LDLR variant that is resistant to PCSK9. Together, our results show that reduced PCSK9 function is associated with increased pathogen lipid clearance via the LDLR, a decreased inflammatory response, and improved septic shock outcome.
Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
BACKGROUND - Proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9 (PCSK9) promotes the degradation of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor (LDLR), and its deficiency in humans results in low plasma LDL cholesterol and protection against coronary heart disease. Recent evidence indicates that PCSK9 also modulates the metabolism of triglyceride-rich apolipoprotein B (apoB) lipoproteins, another important coronary heart disease risk factor. Here, we studied the effects of physiological levels of PCSK9 on intestinal triglyceride-rich apoB lipoprotein production and elucidated for the first time the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Treatment of human enterocytes (CaCo-2 cells) with recombinant human PCSK9 (10 μg/mL for 24 hours) increased cellular and secreted apoB48 and apoB100 by 40% to 55% each (P<0.01 versus untreated cells), whereas short-term deletion of PCSK9 expression reversed this effect. PCSK9 stimulation of apoB was due to a 1.5-fold increase in apoB mRNA (P<0.01) and to enhanced apoB protein stability through both LDLR-dependent and LDLR-independent mechanisms. PCSK9 decreased LDLR protein (P<0.01) and increased cellular apoB stability via activation of microsomal triglyceride transfer protein. PCSK9 also increased levels of the lipid-generating enzymes FAS, SCD, and DGAT2 (P<0.05). In mice, human PCSK9 at physiological levels increased intestinal microsomal triglyceride transfer protein levels and activity regardless of LDLR expression.
CONCLUSIONS - PCSK9 markedly increases intestinal triglyceride-rich apoB production through mechanisms mediated in part by transcriptional effects on apoB, microsomal triglyceride transfer protein, and lipogenic genes and in part by posttranscriptional effects on the LDLR and microsomal triglyceride transfer protein. These findings indicate that targeted PCSK9-based therapies may also be effective in the management of postprandial hypertriglyceridemia.
© 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.
Thermolysin, a metallopeptidase secreted by pathogenic microbes, is concluded as an important virulence factor due to cleaving purified host proteins in vitro. Using the silkworm Bombyx mori as a model system, we found that thermolysin injection into larvae induces the destruction of the coagulation response and the activation of hemolymph melanization, which results in larval death. Thermolysin triggers the rapid degradation of insect and mammalian plasma proteins at a level that is considerably greater than expected in vitro and/or in vivo. To more specifically explore the mechanism, thermolysin-induced changes to key proteins belonging to the insect melanization pathway were assessed as a window for observing plasma protein cleavage. The application of thermolysin induced the rapid cleavage of the melanization negative regulator serpin-3, but did not directly activate the melanization rate-limiting enzyme prophenoloxidase (PPO) or the terminal serine proteases responsible for PPO activation. Terminal serine proteases of melanization are activated indirectly after thermolysin exposure. We hypothesize that thermolysin induces the rapid degradation of serpins and the activation of proteases directly or indirectly, boosting uncontrolled plasma protein degradation in insects and mammalians.
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Evidence accumulated over the last decade has shown that allopolyploid genomes may undergo complex reticulate evolution. In this study, 13 accessions of tetraploid Elymus pendulinus were analyzed using two low-copy nuclear genes (RPB2 and PepC) and two regions of chloroplast genome (Rps16 and trnD-trnT). Previous studies suggested that Pseudoroegneria (St) and an unknown diploid (Y) were genome donors to E. pendulinus, and that Pseudoroegneria was the maternal donor. Our results revealed an extreme reticulate pattern, with at least four distinct gene lineages coexisting within this species that might be acquired through a possible combination of allotetraploidization and introgression from both within and outside the tribe Hordeeae. Chloroplast DNA data identified two potential maternal genome donors (Pseudoroegneria and an unknown species outside Hordeeae) to E. pendulinus. Nuclear gene data indicated that both Pseudoroegneria and an unknown Y diploid have contributed to the nuclear genome of E. pendulinus, in agreement with cytogenetic data. However, unexpected contributions from Hordeum and unknown aliens from within or outside Hordeeae to E. pendulinus without genome duplication were observed. Elymus pendulinus provides a remarkable instance of the previously unsuspected chimerical nature of some plant genomes and the resulting phylogenetic complexity produced by multiple historical reticulation events.
RATIONALE - Lipoprotein apheresis (LA) reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in patients with severe familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). We have recently reported that >30% of plasma proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9 (PCSK9) is bound to LDL, thus we predicted that LA would also reduce plasma PCSK9 levels by removing LDL.
OBJECTIVE - Pre- and post-apheresis plasma from 6 patients with familial hypercholesterolemia on 3 consecutive treatment cycles was used to determine changes in PCSK9 levels.
METHODS AND RESULTS - LA drastically reduced plasma LDL (by 77 ± 4%). Concomitantly, PCSK9 levels fell by 52 ± 5%, strongly correlating with the LDL drop (P=0.0322; r(2)=0.26), but not with decreases in triglyceride (49 ± 13%) or high-density lipoprotein levels (18 ± 2%). Levels of albumin, creatinine, and CK-MB did not show significant changes after LA. Similar to LDL, PCSK9 levels returned to pretreatment values between cycles (2-week intervals). Fractionation of pre- and post-apheresis plasma showed that 81 ± 11% of LDL-bound PCSK9 and 48 ± 14% of apolipoprotein B-free PCSK9 were removed. Separation of whole plasma, purified LDL, or the apolipoprotein B-free fraction through a scaled-down, experimental dextran sulfate cellulose beads column produced similar results.
CONCLUSIONS - Our results show, for the first time, that modulation of LDL levels by LA directly affects plasma PCSK9 levels, and suggest that PCSK9 reduction is an additional benefit of LA. Because the loss of PCSK9 could contribute to the LDL-lowering effect of LA, then (1) anti-PCSK9 therapies may reduce frequency of LA in patients currently approved for therapy, and (2) LA and anti-PCSK9 therapies may be used synergistically to reduce treatment burden.