Background: Lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) is a plasma enzyme that esterifies cholesterol in high- and low-density lipoproteins (HDL and LDL). Mutations in LCAT gene causes familial LCAT deficiency, which is characterized by very low plasma HDL-cholesterol levels (Hypoalphalipoproteinemia), corneal opacity and anemia, among other lipid-related traits. Our aim is to evaluate clinical/biochemical features of a Chilean family with a proband showing clinical signs of familial LCAT deficiency, as well as to identify and assess the functional effects of LCAT mutations. Methods: An adult female proband with hypoalphalipoproteinemia, corneal opacity and mild anemia, as well as her first-degree relatives, were recruited for clinical, biochemical, genetic, in-silico and in-vitro LCAT analysis. Sequencing of exons and intron-exon boundaries was performed to identify mutations. Site-directed mutagenesis was carried out to generate plasmids containing cDNA with wild type or mutant sequences. Such expression vectors were transfected to HEK-239 T cells to asses the effect of LCAT variants in expression, synthesis, secretion and enzyme activity. In-silico prediction analysis and molecular modeling was also used to evaluate the effect of LCAT variants. Results: LCAT sequencing identified rare p.V333 M and p.M404 V missense mutations in compound heterozygous state in the proband, as well the common synonymous p.L363 L variant. LCAT protein was detected in proband's plasma, but with undetectable enzyme activity compared to control relatives. HEK-293 T transfected cells with vector expression plasmids containing either p.M404 V or p.V333 M cDNA showed detectable LCAT protein expression both in supernatants and lysates from cultured cells, but with much lower enzyme activity compared to cells transfected with the wild-type sequence. Bioinformatic analyses also supported a causal role of such rare variations in LCAT lack of function. Additionally, the proband carried the minor allele of the synonymous p.L363 L variant. However, this variant is unlikely to affect the clinical phenotype of the proband given its relatively high frequency in the Chilean population (4%) and its small putative effect on plasma HDL-cholesterol levels. Conclusion: Genetic, biochemical, in vitro and in silico analyses indicate that the rare mutations p.M404 V and p.V333 M in LCAT gene lead to suppression of LCAT enzyme activity and cause clinical features of familial LCAT deficiency.
- Lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase