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Rare genetic causes of autosomal dominant or recessive hypercholesterolaemia

Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) is a human inherited disorder of metabolism characterised by increased serum low‐density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. It is caused by defects in the LDL‐receptor pathway that impair normal uptake and clearance of LDL by the liver. The commonest cause of FH is mutations in LDLR, the gene for the LDL receptor, but defects also occur in APOB that encodes its major protein ligand. More recently, defects in two other genes, LDLRAP1 and PCSK9, have been found in patients with FH and investigation of these has shed new light on the functioning and complexity of the LDL receptor pathway. Cells from patients with autosomal recessive hypercholesterolaemia (ARH) fail to internalise the LDL receptor because they carry two defective alleles of LDLRAP1, a gene that encodes a specific clathrin adaptor protein. PCSK9 encodes proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9, a secreted protein that binds to the LDL receptor and promotes its degradation. Gain‐of function mutations in PCSK9 are autosomal dominant and cause hypercholesterolaemia because they increase the affinity of PCSK9 protein for the LDL receptor, whereas loss‐of‐function mutations reduce serum cholesterol because LDL‐receptor protein is exposed to reduced PCSK9‐mediated degradation. Thus, PCSK9 has become a new target for cholesterol‐lowering drug therapy. © 2010 IUBMB IUBMB Life, 62(2): 125–131, 2010 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png IUBMB Life Wiley

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