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Eur Heart J. 2017 Dec 21;38(48):3579-3587. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehx315.

TRAK2, a novel regulator of ABCA1 expression, cholesterol efflux and HDL biogenesis.

Author information

Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, 75 Commercial Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia.
Murdoch Children's Research Institute, 50 Flemington Road, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia.
Department of Pathology, University of Melbourne, Grattan Street, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia.
South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, One West University Blvd. Brownsville, Texas 78520, USA.
University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.
Curtin University, Kent St, Bentley, WA 6102, Australia.
Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, 50 Flemington Road, Parkville,VIC 3052, Australia.



The recent failures of HDL-raising therapies have underscored our incomplete understanding of HDL biology. Therefore there is an urgent need to comprehensively investigate HDL metabolism to enable the development of effective HDL-centric therapies. To identify novel regulators of HDL metabolism, we performed a joint analysis of human genetic, transcriptomic, and plasma HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) concentration data and identified a novel association between trafficking protein, kinesin binding 2 (TRAK2) and HDL-C concentration. Here we characterize the molecular basis of the novel association between TRAK2 and HDL-cholesterol concentration.

Methods and results:

Analysis of lymphocyte transcriptomic data together with plasma HDL from the San Antonio Family Heart Study (n = 1240) revealed a significant negative correlation between TRAK2 mRNA levels and HDL-C concentration, HDL particle diameter and HDL subspecies heterogeneity. TRAK2 siRNA-mediated knockdown significantly increased cholesterol efflux to apolipoprotein A-I and isolated HDL from human macrophage (THP-1) and liver (HepG2) cells by increasing the mRNA and protein expression of the cholesterol transporter ATP-binding cassette, sub-family A member 1 (ABCA1). The effect of TRAK2 knockdown on cholesterol efflux was abolished in the absence of ABCA1, indicating that TRAK2 functions in an ABCA1-dependent efflux pathway. TRAK2 knockdown significantly increased liver X receptor (LXR) binding at the ABCA1 promoter, establishing TRAK2 as a regulator of LXR-mediated transcription of ABCA1.


We show, for the first time, that TRAK2 is a novel regulator of LXR-mediated ABCA1 expression, cholesterol efflux, and HDL biogenesis. TRAK2 may therefore be an important target in the development of anti-atherosclerotic therapies.


ABCA1 ; Atherosclerosis ; Cholesterol ; Genetics ; HDL ; TRAK2

[Available on 2018-12-21]

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