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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Sep 5;1584(1):9-19.

Comparison of the stabilities and unfolding pathways of human apolipoprotein E isoforms by differential scanning calorimetry and circular dichroism.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Differential scanning calorimetry and circular dichroism experiments were performed to study structural differences among the common isoforms of human apolipoprotein E (apoE2, apoE3, and apoE4) and their N-terminal, 22-kDa fragments. Here, we examine thermodynamic properties that characterize the structural differences among isoforms, and also differences in their unfolding behavior. The 22-kDa fragments and their full-length counterparts were found to exhibit similar differences in thermal stability (apoE4<apoE3<apoE2; T(max) approximately 52<56<59 degrees C, respectively). Helical contents at the onset and completion of denaturation (as monitored calorimetrically) were about 51% and 35%, respectively, for 22-kDa apoE3. As much as 70% of the unfolding enthalpy for 22-kDa apoE3 could be due to disruption of alpha-helix. The monomeric 22-kDa fragments unfold differently, with both apoE3 and apoE4 exhibiting unfolding intermediates, whereas apoE2 unfolds according to a two-state mechanism. Interactions with the C-terminal domain appear to destabilize the N-terminal domains in full-length apoE2 and apoE3, but less so for full-length apoE4. Self-association of full-length apoE at higher concentrations (1.5-2.5 mg/ml), as well as interaction of full-length apoE with phospholipid, enhances thermal stability. Cooperative changes in secondary structure, as monitored by circular dichroism, begin near 37 degrees C for full-length apoE3 and apoE4, indicating that full-length apoE3 and apoE4, but not apoE2, may be partially unfolded in vivo. The differences in stability and unfolding behavior are likely to contribute to the molecular basis for defects in lipid transport and neurological function induced by apoE polymorphism.

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