Genetic Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein Deficiency Caused by Two Prevalent Mutations as a Major Determinant of Increased Levels of High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol

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Genetic determinants of HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) levels in the general population are poorly understood. We previously described plasma cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) deficiency due to an intron 14 G(+1)-to-A mutation(Int14 A) in several families with very high HDL-C levels in Japan. Subjects with HDL-C >= 100 mg/dl (n = 130) were screened by PCR single strand conformational polymorphism analysis of the CETP gene. Two other mutations were identified by DNA sequencing or primer-mediated restriction map modification of PCR products: a novel intron 14 splice donor site mutation caused by a T insertion at position +3 from the exon14/intron14 boundary (Int14 T) and a missense mutation (Asp442 to Gly) within exon 15 (D442G). The Int14 T mutation was only found in one family. However, the D442G and Int14 A mutations were highly prevalent in subjects with HDL-C >= 60 mg/dl, with combined allele frequencies of 9%, 12%, 21%, and 43% for HDL-C 60-79, 80-99, 100-119, and >= 120 mg/dl, respectively. Furthermore, prevalences of the D442G and Int14 A mutations were extremely high in a general sample of Japanese men (n = 236), with heterozygote frequencies of 7% and 2%, respectively. These two mutations accounted for about 10% of the total variance of HDL-C in this population. The phenotype in a genetic compound heterozygote (Int14 T and Int14 A) was similar to that of Int14 A homozygotes (no detectable CETP and markedly increased HDL-C), indicating that the Int14 T produces a null allele. In four D442G homozygotes, mean HDL-C levels (86 +/-26 mg/dl) were lower than in Int14 A homozygotes (158 +/-35 mg/dl), reflecting residual CETP activity in plasma. In 47 D442G heterozygotes, mean HDL-C levels were 91 +/-23 mg/dl, similar to the level in D442G homozygotes, and significantly greater than mean HDL-C levels in Int14 A heterozygotes (69 +/-15 mg/dl). Thus, the D442G mutation acts differently to the null mutations with weaker effects on HDL in the homozygous state and stronger effects in the heterozygotes, suggesting dominant expression of a partially defective allele. CETP deficiency, reflecting two prevalent mutations (D442G and Int14 A), is the first example of a genetic deficiency state which is sufficiently common to explain a significant fraction of the variation in HDL-C in the general population. (J. Clin. Invest. 1994. 94:1872-1882.) Key words: cholesteryl ester transfer protein deficiency. high density lipoprotein. hyper-alphalipoproteinemia. missense mutation. splice donor site mutation

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