Coronary Artery Disease–Associated LIPA Coding Variant rs1051338 Reduces Lysosomal Acid Lipase Levels and Activity in Lysosomes

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Genome-wide association studies have linked variants at chromosome 10q23 with increased coronary artery disease risk. The disease-associated variants fall in LIPA, which encodes lysosomal acid lipase (LAL), the enzyme responsible for lysosomal cholesteryl ester hydrolysis. Loss-of-function mutations in LIPA result in accelerated atherosclerosis. Surprisingly, the coronary artery disease variants are associated with increased LIPA expression in some cell types. In this study, we address this apparent contradiction.

Approach and Results—

We investigated a coding variant rs1051338, which is in high linkage disequilibrium (r2=0.89) with the genome-wide association study lead–associated variant rs2246833 and causes a nonsynonymous threonine to proline change within the signal peptide of LAL. Transfection of allele-specific expression constructs showed that the risk allele results in reduced lysosomal LAL protein (P=0.004) and activity (P=0.005). Investigation of LAL localization and turnover showed the risk LAL protein is degraded more quickly. This mechanism was confirmed in disease-relevant macrophages from individuals homozygous for either the nonrisk or risk allele. There was no difference in LAL protein or activity in whole macrophage extracts; however, we found reduced LAL protein (P=0.02) and activity (P=0.026) with the risk genotype in lysosomal extracts, suggesting that the risk genotype affects lysosomal LAL activity. Inhibition of the proteasome resulted in equal amounts of lysosomal LAL protein in risk and nonrisk macrophages.


Our findings show that the coronary artery disease–associated coding variant rs1051338 causes reduced lysosomal LAL protein and activity because of increased LAL degradation, providing a plausible causal mechanism of increased coronary artery disease risk.

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