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Assessing the mechanisms of cholesteryl ester transfer protein inhibitors


Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) inhibitors are a new class of therapeutics for dyslipidemia that simultaneously improve two major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors: elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. However, the detailed molecular mechanisms underlying their efficacy are poorly understood, as are any potential mechanistic differences among the drugs in this class. Herein, we used electron microscopy (EM) to investigate the effects of three of these agents (Torcetrapib, Dalcetrapib and Anacetrapib) on CETP structure, CETP-lipoprotein complex formation and CETP-mediated cholesteryl ester (CE) transfer. We found that although none of these inhibitors altered the structure of CETP or the conformation of CETP-lipoprotein binary complexes, all inhibitors, especially Torcetrapib and Anacetrapib, increased the binding ratios of the binary complexes (e.g., HDL-CETP and LDL-CETP) and decreased the binding ratios of the HDL-CETP-LDL ternary complexes. The findings of more binary complexes and fewer ternary complexes reflect a new mechanism of inhibition: one distal end of CETP bound to the first lipoprotein would trigger a conformational change at the other distal end, thus resulting in a decreased binding ratio to the second lipoprotein and a degraded CE transfer rate among lipoproteins. Thus, we suggest a new inhibitor design that should decrease the formation of both binary and ternary complexes. Decreased concentrations of the binary complex may prevent the inhibitor was induced into cell by the tight binding of binary complexes during lipoprotein metabolism in the treatment of CVD.

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