Heritable thoracic aortic disease and familial thoracic aortic aneurysm/dissection are important causes of human morbidity/mortality, most without identifiable genetic cause. In a family with familial thoracic aortic aneurysm/dissection, we identified a missense p. (Ser178Arg) variant in PLOD1 segregating with disease, and evaluated PLOD1 enzymatic activity, collagen characteristics and in human aortic vascular smooth muscle cells, studied the effect on function. Comparison with homologous PLOD3 enzyme indicated that the pathogenic variant may affect the N-terminal glycosyltransferase domain, suggesting unprecedented PLOD1 activity. In vitro assays demonstrated that wild-type PLOD1 is capable of processing UDP-glycan donor substrates, and that the variant affects the folding stability of the glycosyltransferase domain and associated enzymatic functions. The PLOD1 substrate lysine was elevated in the proband, however the enzymatic product hydroxylysine and total collagen content was not different, albeit despite collagen fibril narrowing and preservation of collagen turnover. In VSMCs overexpressing wild-type PLOD1, there was upregulation in procollagen gene expression (secretory function) which was attenuated in the variant, consistent with loss-of-function. In comparison, si-PLOD1 cells demonstrated hypercontractility and upregulation of contractile markers, providing evidence for phenotypic switching. Together, the findings suggest that the PLOD1 product is preserved, however newly identified glucosyltransferase activity of PLOD1 appears to be affected by folding stability of the variant, and is associated with compensatory vascular smooth muscle cells phenotypic switching to support collagen production, albeit with less robust fibril girth. Future studies should focus on the impact of PLOD1 folding/variant stability on the tertiary structure of collagen and ECM interactions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Physiology (medical)
- Biochemistry, medical