Low density lipoprotein: Structure, dynamics, and interactions of apoB-100 with lipids

Teemu Murtola, Timo A. Vuorela, Marja T. Hyvönen, Siewert Jan Marrink, Mikko Karttunen, Ilpo Vattulainen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) transports cholesterol in the bloodstream and plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular diseases, in particular atherosclerosis. Despite its importance to health, the structure of LDL is not known in detail. This is worrying since the lack of LDL's structural information makes it more difficult to understand its function. In this work, we have combined experimental and theoretical data to construct LDL models comprised of the apoB-100 protein wrapped around a lipid droplet of about 20 nm in size. The models are considered by near-atomistic multi-microsecond simulations to unravel structural as well as dynamical properties of LDL, with particular attention paid to lipids and their interactions with the protein. We find that the distribution and the ordering of the lipids in the LDL particle are rather complex. The previously proposed 2- and 3-layer models turn out to be inadequate to describe the properties of the lipid droplet. At the surface of LDL, apoB-100 is found to interact favorably with cholesterol and its esters. The interactions of apoB-100 with core molecules, in particular cholesteryl esters, are rather frequent and arise from hydrophobic amino acids interacting with the ring of cholesteryl esters, and also in part from the rather loose packing of lipids at the surface of the lipoparticle. The loose packing may foster the function of transfer proteins, which transport lipids between lipoproteins. Finally, the comparison of the several apoB-100 models in our study suggests that the properties of lipids in LDL are rather insensitive to the conformation of apoB-100. Altogether, the findings pave the way for further studies of LDL to better understand the central steps in the emergence of atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8135-8141
Number of pages7
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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