Computational studies of plasma lipoprotein lipids

Academic Article


  • Plasma lipoproteins are macromolecular assemblies of proteins and lipids found in the blood. The lipid components of lipoproteins are amphipathic lipids such as phospholipids (PLs), and unesterified cholesterols (UCs) and hydrophobic lipids such as cholesteryl esters (CEs) and triglycerides (TGs). Since lipoproteins are soft matter supramolecular assemblies easily deformable by thermal fluctuations and they also exist in varying densities and protein/lipid components, a detailed understanding of their structure/function is experimentally difficult. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulation has emerged as a particularly promising way to explore the structure and dynamics of lipoproteins. The purpose of this review is to survey the current status of computational studies of the lipid components of the lipoproteins. Computational studies aim to explore three levels of complexity for the 3-dimensional structural dynamics of lipoproteins at various metabolic stages: (i) lipoprotein particles consist of protein with minimal lipid; (ii) lipoprotein particles consist of PL-rich discoidal bilayer-like lipid particles; (iii) mature circulating lipoprotein particles consist of CE-rich or TG-rich spheroidal lipid-droplet-like particles. Due to energy barriers involved in conversion between these species, other biomolecules also participate in lipoprotein biological assembly. For example: (i) lipid-poor apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) interacts with ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) to produce nascent discoidal high density lipoprotein (dHDL) particles; (ii) lecithin–cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) mediates the conversion of UC to CE in dHDL, driving spheroidal HDL (sHDL) formation; (iii) transfer proteins, cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP) and phospholipid transfer protein (PLTP), transfer both CE and TG and PL, respectively, between lipoprotein particles. Computational studies have the potential to explore different lipoprotein particles at each metabolic stage in atomistic detail. This review discusses the current status of computational methods including all-atom MD (AAMD), coarse-grain MD (CGMD), and MD-simulated annealing (MDSA) and their applications in lipoprotein structural dynamics and biological assemblies. Results from MD simulations are discussed and compared across studies in order to identify key findings, controversies, issues and future directions. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Biosimulations edited by Ilpo Vattulainen and Tomasz RĂłg.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Pan L; Segrest JP
  • Start Page

  • 2401
  • End Page

  • 2420
  • Volume

  • 1858
  • Issue

  • 10