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Autophagy. 2008 Nov;4(8):1079-82. Epub 2008 Nov 23.

ApoL1, a BH3-only lipid-binding protein, induces autophagic cell death.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131-0001, USA.


We recently reported the identification and characterization of a novel BH3-only pro-death protein, apolipoprotein L1 (ApoL1), that, when overexpressed, induces autophagic cell death (ACD) in a variety of cells, including those originated from normal and cancerous tissues. ApoL1 failed to induce ACD in autophagy-deficient Atg5(-/-) and Atg7(-/-) MEF cells, suggesting that ApoL1-induced cell death is indeed autophagy-dependent. In addition, a BH3 domain deletion allele of ApoL1 was unable to induce ACD, demonstrating that ApoL1 is a bona fide BH3-only pro-death protein. To further investigate regulation of ApoL1 expression, we showed that ApoL1 is inducible by interferon-gamma and tumor necrosis factor-alpha in human umbilical vein endothelial cells, suggesting that ApoL1 may play a role in cytokine-induced inflammatory response. Moreover, we observed that ApoL1 is a lipid-binding protein with high affinity for phosphatidic acid and cardiolipin and less affinity for various phosphoinositides. Functional genomics analysis identified 5 nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (NSNPs) in the coding exons of the human ApoL1 structural gene-all the 5 NSNPs may cause deleterious alteration of ApoL1 activity. Finally, we discuss the link between ApoL1 and various human diseases.

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