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Clin Chem. 2006 Aug;52(8):1469-79. Epub 2006 Jun 1.

Model system for phenotypic characterization of sequence variations in the LDL receptor gene.

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Department of Medical Genetics, Rikshospitalet-Radiumhospitalet Medical Center, N-0027 Oslo, Norway.



Sequence variations in the LDL receptor (LDLR) gene cause defects of LDLR protein production and function through different molecular mechanisms. Here we describe a cell model system for the phenotypic characterization of sequence variations in the LDLR gene. Well-known sequence variations belonging to LDLR classes 2 to 5 (p.G565V, p.I161D, p.Y828C, and p.V429M) were studied in CHO and HepG2 cells.


Expression of LDLR protein on the cell surface was detected by use of fluorescence-conjugated antibodies against the LDLR and the LDLR activity was measured by incubating the cells with fluorescently labeled and radiolabeled LDL. The intracellular locations of the LDLR mutants and wild-type were also investigated.


The class 2A p.G565V sequence variant exhibited an intracellular distribution of LDLR with no active receptors on the cell surface. Both the class 3 p.I161D and class 4 p.Y828C sequence variants gave surface staining but had a reduced ability to bind or internalize LDL, respectively. By determining the intracellular locations of the receptors we were able to visualize the accumulation of the class 5 p.V429M sequence variant in endosomes by means of a specific marker, as well as confirming that the class 4 p.Y828C variant was not localized in clathrin-coated pits. Flow cytometry allowed us quantitatively to determine the amount and activity of receptors. To confirm the results of binding and cell association of fluorescently labeled LDL analyzed by flow cytometry, assays using 125I-labeled LDL were performed. In addition to a useful and valid alternative to radiolabeled LDL, the unique properties of fluorescently labeled LDL allowed a variety of detection technologies to be used.


This new approach enables phenotypic characterization of sequence variations in the LDLR gene. The assays developed may be valuable for confirming the pathogenicity of novel missense sequence variations found throughout the LDLR gene.

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