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J Atheroscler Thromb. 2006 Dec;13(6):281-5.

The possible contribution of a general glycosphingolipid transporter, GM2 activator protein, to atherosclerosis.

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  • 1Division of General Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Kashiwa Hospital, The Jikei University School of Medicine, Chiba, Japan. yanaih@jikei.ac.jp


We previously found that oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) elevated the expression of mRNA of GalNAcbeta1-4[NeuNAcalpha2-3]Galbeta1-4Glc-Cer (GM2) ganglioside activator protein, in human monocyte-derived macrophages. Recently, GM2 activator protein has become known as a general glycosphingolipid transporter as well as a specific cofactor for the hydrolysis of GM2 ganglioside by lysosomal beta-hexosaminidase A. Accumulation of glycosphingolipids has been observed in the serum or aorta of atherosclerotic model animals and humans. The proliferation of aortic smooth muscle cells, elevation of LDL uptake by macrophages, interfering LDL clearance by the liver, and enhancement of platelet adhesion to collagen have been proposed as the underlying mechanisms of glycosphingolipid-mediated atherogenesis. The GM2 activator protein can bind, solubilize and transport a broad spectrum of lipid molecules, indicating that GM2 activator protein may function as a general intra- and inter-cellular lipid transport protein. Collectively, elevated levels of GM2 activator protein in the aorta may be another feature of human atherosclerosis.

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