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The apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene is robustly linked with numerous physiological conditions, including healthy aging, altered cardiovascular fitness, and cognitive function. These connections have been established primarily by phenotype-genotype association studies using APOE's three common genetic variants (ε2, ε3, and ε4). These variants encode for the three apoE protein isoforms (E2, E3, and E4), which have slightly different structures and, consequently, distinct functions in lipid metabolism. However, the differential lipid binding and transferring properties of these isoforms cannot fully explain the association of APOE with such a wide range of physiological phenotypes. One potential explanation for APOE's pleiotropic roles may lie in its unique epigenetic properties. In this article, we present a brief review of the APOE gene and protein, its disease associations, and epigenetic components, with a focus on DNA methylation. We close with a discussion of the prospective epigenetic implications of APOE in disease.


Chang-En Yu, Jessica Foraker. Epigenetic considerations of the APOE gene. [corrected]. Biomolecular concepts. 2015 Mar;6(1):77-84

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PMID: 25741792

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