Bagging Cholesterol


Cholesterol maintains a healthy body, but too much cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Lipoproteins can bag superfluous cholesterol in the arteries and transport it to the liver for removal. One such lipoprotein is high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which self-assembles into discoidal particles (see the Mar 2007 highlight) and then bags cholesterol. How this works is the subject of a recent report. Molecular dynamics simulations using NAMD revealed that discoidal HDL particles, teaming up with the enzyme LCAT, first turn cholesterol chemically into cholesterol ester and then sucks it into the interior of the particle; in the course of this process, the HDL particle swells into a sphere. More information on our lipoprotein website.

Maturation of high-density lipoproteins. Amy Y. Shih, Stephen G. Sligar, and Klaus Schulten. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 6:863-871, 2009.