The WWOX Gene Modulates HDL and Lipid Metabolism
Background—Low high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) constitutes a major risk factor for atherosclerosis. Recent studies from our group reported a genetic association between the WW domain-containing oxidoreductase (WWOX) gene and HDL-C levels. Here, through next-generation resequencing, in vivo functional studies and gene microarray analyses, we investigated the role of WWOX in HDL and lipid metabolism.
Methods and Results—Using next-generation resequencing of the WWOX region, we first identified 8 variants significantly associated and perfectly segregating with the low-HDL trait in two multi-generational French Canadian dyslipidemic families. To understand in vivo functions of WWOX, we used liver-specific Wwoxhep-/- and total Wwox-/- mice models, where we found decreased ApoA-I and ABCA1 levels in hepatic tissues. Analyses of lipoprotein profiles in Wwox-/-, but not Wwoxhep-/- littermates, also showed marked reductions in serum HDL-C concentrations, concordant with the low-HDL findings observed in families. We next obtained evidence of a gender-specific effect in female Wwoxhep-/- mice, where an increase in plasma triglycerides and altered lipid metabolic pathways by microarray analyses were observed. We further identified a significant reduction in ApoA-I and LPL, and upregulation in Fas, Angptl4 and Lipg, suggesting that the effects of Wwox involve multiple pathways, including cholesterol homeostasis, ApoA-I/ABCA1 pathway, and fatty acid biosynthesis/triglyceride metabolism.
Conclusions—Our data indicate that WWOX disruption alters HDL and lipoprotein metabolism through several mechanisms and may account for the low-HDL phenotype observed in families expressing the WWOX variants. These findings thus describe a novel gene involved in cellular lipid homeostasis, which effects may impact atherosclerotic disease development.
- high-density lipoprotein cholesterol
- lipids and lipoprotein metabolism
- gene expression/regulation
- cardiovascular disease
- Received July 3, 2013.
- Revision received April 14, 2014.
- Accepted April 23, 2014.