A mechanism for lipid binding to apoE and the role of intrinsically disordered regions coupled to domain-domain interactions [Biophysics and Computational Biology]
Relative to the apolipoprotein E (apoE) E3 allele of the APOE gene, apoE4 strongly increases the risk for the development of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. However, apoE4 differs from apoE3 by only a single amino acid at position 112, which is arginine in apoE4 and cysteine in apoE3. It remains unclear why apoE3 and apoE4 are functionally different. Described here is a proposal for understanding the functional differences between these two isoforms with respect to lipid binding. A mechanism is proposed that is based on the full-length monomeric structure of the protein, on hydrogen–deuterium exchange mass spectrometry data, and on the role of intrinsically disordered regions to control protein motions. It is proposed that lipid binds between the N-terminal and C-terminal domains and that separation of the two domains, along with the presence of intrinsically disordered regions, controls this process. The mechanism explains why apoE3 differs from apoE4 with respect to different lipid-binding specificities, why lipid increases the binding of apoE to its receptor, and why specific residues are conserved.
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