Novel domain interaction regulates secretion of proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) protein

Fen Du, Yvonne Hui, Michelle Zhang, MacRae F. Linton, Sergio Fazio, Daping Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


PCSK9 (proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9) has emerged as a novel therapeutic target for hypercholesterolemia due to its LDL receptor (LDLR)-reducing activity. Although its structure has been solved, the lack of a detailed understanding of the structure-function relation hinders efforts to develop small molecule inhibitors. In this study, we used mutagenesis and transfection approaches to investigate the roles of the prodomain (PD) and the C-terminal domain (CD) and its modules (CM1-3) in the secretion and function of PCSK9. Deletion of PD residues 31-40, 41-50, or 51-60 did not affect the self-cleavage, secretion, or LDLR-degrading activity of PCSK9, whereas deletion of residues 61-70 abolished all of these functions. Deletion of the entire CD protein did not impair PCSK9 self-cleavage or secretion but completely abolished LDLR-degrading activity. Deletion of any one or two of the CD modules did not affect self-cleavage but influenced secretion and LDLR-reducing activity. Furthermore, in cotransfection experiments, a secretion-defective PD deletion mutant (ΔPD) was efficiently secreted in the presence of CD deletion mutants. This was due to the transfer of PD from the cotransfected CD mutants to the ΔPD mutant. Finally, we found that a discrete CD protein fragment competed with full-length PCSK9 for binding to LDLR in vitro and attenuated PCSK9-mediated hypercholesterolemia in mice. These results show a previously unrecognized domain interaction as a critical determinant in PCSK9 secretion and function. This knowledge should fuel efforts to develop novel approaches to PCSK9 inhibition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43054-43061
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 16 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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