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PLoS One. 2014 Jun 27;9(6):e97044. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097044. eCollection 2014.

ABCG1 rs57137919G>a polymorphism is functionally associated with varying gene expression and apoptosis of macrophages.

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Department of Cardiology, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2014;9(9):e108083.


ATP-binding cassette transporter G1 (ABCG1) is a transmembrane cholesterol transporter involved in macrophage sterol homeostasis, reverse cholesterol transport (RCT), and atherosclerosis. The role of ABCG1 in atherosclerosis remains controversial, especially in animal models. Our previous study showed that single nucleotide polymorphism rs57137919 (-367G>A) in the ABCG1 promoter region was associated with reduced risk for atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (CAD). This study was designed to provide functional evidence for the role of rs57137919G>A in atherosclerosis in humans. We combined in vitro and ex vivo studies using cell lines and human monocyte-derived macrophages to investigate the functional consequences of the promoter polymorphism by observing the effects of the rs57137919A allele on promoter activity, transcription factor binding, gene expression, cholesterol efflux, and apoptosis levels. The results showed that the rs57137919A allele was significantly associated with decreased ABCG1 gene expression possibly due to the impaired ability of protein-DNA binding. ABCG1-mediated cholesterol efflux decreased by 23% with rs57137919 A/A versus the G/G genotype. Cholesterol-loaded macrophage apoptosis was induced 2-fold with the A/A genotype compared with the G/G genotype. Proapoptotic genes Bok and Bid mRNA levels were significantly increased in macrophages from the A/A genotype compared with those from the G/G genotype. These findings demonstrated that the ABCG1 promoter rs57137919G>A variant had an allele-specific effect on ABCG1 expression and was associated with an increased apoptosis in cholesterol-loaded macrophages, providing functional evidence to explain the reduced risk for atherosclerosis in subjects with the ABCG1 promoter rs57137919A allele as reported in our previous study.

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