Indexed on: 12 Oct '05Published on: 12 Oct '05Published in: Atherosclerosis
The esterification of free cholesterol (FC) in plasma, catalyzed by the enzyme lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT; EC 220.127.116.11), is a key process in lipoprotein metabolism. The resulting cholesteryl esters (CE) represent the main core lipids of low (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). Primary (familial) LCAT-deficiency (FLD) is a rare autosomal recessive genetic disease caused by the complete or near absence of LCAT activity. In fish-eye disease (FED), residual LCAT activity is still detectable. Here, we describe a 32-year-old patient with corneal opacity, very low LCAT activity, reduced amounts of CE (low HDL-cholesterol level), and elevated triglyceride (TG) values. The lipoprotein pattern was abnormal with regard to lipoprotein composition and concentration, but distinct lipoprotein classes were still present. Despite of typical features of glomerular proteinuria, creatinine clearance was normal. DNA sequencing and restiction fragment analyses revealed two separate mutations in the patient's LCAT gene: a previously described G to A transition in exon 4 converting Arg140 to His, inherited from his mother, and a novel G to C transversion in exon 2 converting Gly71 to Arg, inherited from his father, indicating that M.P. was a compound heterozygote. Determination of enzyme activities of recombinant LCAT proteins obtained upon transfection of COS-7 cells with plasmids containing G71R-LCAT or wild-type LCAT cDNA revealed very low alpha- and absence of beta-LCAT activity for the G71R mutant. The identification of the novel G71R LCAT mutation supports the proposed molecular model for the enzyme implying that the "lid" domain at residues 50-74 is involved in enzyme:substrate interaction. Our data are in line with the hypothesis that a key event in the etiology of FLD is the loss of distinct lipoprotein fractions.