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    Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type-9 (PCSK9) is a ligand of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor (LDLR) that promotes LDLR degradation in late endosomes/lysosomes. In human plasma, 30-40% of PCSK9 is bound to LDL particles; however, the physiological significance of this interaction remains unknown. LDL binding in vitro requires a disordered N-terminal region in PCSK9's prodomain. Here, we report that peptides corresponding to a predicted amphipathic α-helix in the prodomain N terminus adopt helical structure in a membrane-mimetic environment. This effect was greatly enhanced by an R46L substitution representing an atheroprotective PCSK9 loss-of-function mutation. A helix-disrupting proline substitution within the putative α-helical motif in full-length PCSK9 lowered LDL binding affinity >5-fold. Modeling studies suggested that the transient α-helix aligns multiple polar residues to interact with positively charged residues in the C-terminal domain. Gain-of-function PCSK9 mutations associated with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) and clustered at the predicted interdomain interface (R469W, R496W, and F515L) inhibited LDL binding, which was completely abolished in the case of the R496W variant. These findings shed light on allosteric conformational changes in PCSK9 required for high-affinity binding to LDL particles. Moreover, the initial identification of FH-associated mutations that diminish PCSK9's ability to bind LDL reported here supports the notion that PCSK9-LDL association in the circulation inhibits PCSK9 activity. © 2020 Sarkar et al.


    Samantha K Sarkar, Alexander C Y Foo, Angela Matyas, Ikhuosho Asikhia, Tanja Kosenko, Natalie K Goto, Ariela Vergara-Jaque, Thomas A Lagace. A transient amphipathic helix in the prodomain of PCSK9 facilitates binding to low-density lipoprotein particles. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2020 Feb 21;295(8):2285-2298

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    PMID: 31949048

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