Sayumi Hirose, Yusuke Hioki, Hiroaki Miyashita, Naoya Hirade, Jun Yoshitake, Takahiro Shibata, Ryosuke Kikuchi, Tadashi Matsushita, Miho Chikazawa, Masanori Itakura, Mimin Zhang, Koji Nagata, and Koji Uchida


Lysine N-pyrrolation, converting lysine residues to Nϵ-pyrrole-l-lysine, is a recently discovered post-translational modification. This naturally occurring reaction confers electrochemical properties onto proteins that potentially produce an electrical mimic to DNA and result in specificity toward DNA-binding molecules such as anti-DNA autoantibodies. The discovery of this unique covalent protein modification provides a rationale for establishing the molecular mechanism and broad functional significance of the formation and regulation of Nϵ-pyrrole-l-lysine–containing proteins. In this study, we used microbeads coupled to pyrrolated or nonpyrrolated protein to screen for binding activities of human serum-resident nonimmunoglobin proteins to the pyrrolated proteins. This screen identified apolipoprotein E (apoE) as a protein that innately binds the DNA-mimicking proteins in serum. Using an array of biochemical assays, we observed that the pyrrolated proteins bind to the N-terminal domain of apoE and that oligomeric apoE binds these proteins better than does monomeric apoE. Employing surface plasmon resonance and confocal microscopy, we further observed that apoE deficiency leads to significant accumulation of pyrrolated serum albumin and is associated with an enhanced immune response. These results, along with the observation that apoE facilitates the binding of pyrrolated proteins to cells, suggest that apoE may contribute to the clearance of pyrrolated serum proteins. Our findings uncover apoE as a binding target of pyrrolated proteins, providing a key link connecting covalent protein modification, lipoprotein metabolism, and innate immunity.

Paper Information

: The Journal of Biological Chemistry
: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.006629