The ε4 allele of apolipoprotein E (apoE) is a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). In order to gain a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which apoE and possibly other apolipoproteins produced in the central nervous system (CNS) influence AD pathogenesis, we have purified and characterized the two most abundant apolipoproteins produced in the CNS, apoE and apoJ. We purified apoE and apoJ from primary cultures of mouse astrocytes, which were derived from transgenic mice expressing human apoE isoforms in the absence of mouse apoE. Utilizing antibody affinity columns, we were able to purify both human apoE3 and apoE4, as well as mouse apoJ-containing lipoproteins. Astrocyte-secreted human apoE was present in high density-like lipoproteins of three predominant sizes ranging from 8 to 15 nm in diameter. Mouse apoJ was in particles between 10 and 17 nm in diameter with a peak size range of ∼11 nm. ApoE and apoJ were in distinct lipoproteins. Utilization of quick-freeze, deep-etch electron microscopy revealed the apoE particles were discs while the apoJ particles were smaller and more irregular in appearance. The lipid composition of apoE particles was very different from those containing apoJ. ApoE-particles contained a similar mass of apoE and lipid, with cholesterol and phospholipid being about equal in mass per particle. ApoJ-particles were relatively lipid poor (three parts protein, one part lipid), with phospholipids being much more abundant than cholesterol. Detailed characterization of phospholipid composition by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry analysis revealed ethanolamine glycerophospholipids to be the most abundant phospholipid present in both apoE and apoJ particles. Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid from apoE3 and apoE4 transgenic mice revealed that human and mouse apoE were in particles the same size as those secreted by astrocytes. Further use of physiological preparations of CNS-derived lipoproteins may allow for a detailed understanding of the role of these molecules in the normal brain and in diseases such as AD.
- Alzheimer's disease
- CNS-derived lipoproteins