PCSK9 (proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9) promotes degradation of the LDLR [LDL (low-density lipoprotein) receptor] through an as-yet-undefined mechanism, leading to a reduction in cellular LDLc (LDL-cholesterol) and a concomitant increase in serum LDLc. Central to the function of PCSK9 is a direct protein–protein interaction formed with the LDLR. In the present study, we investigated a strategy to modulate LDL uptake by blocking this interaction using specific antibodies directed against PCSK9. Studies using surface plasmon resonance demonstrated that direct binding of PCSK9 to the LDLR could be abolished with three different anti-PCSK9 antibodies. Two of these antibodies were raised against peptide epitopes in a region of the catalytic domain of PCSK9 that is involved in the interaction with the LDLR. Such antibodies restored LDL uptake in HepG2 cells treated with exogenous PCSK9 and in HepG2 cells engineered to overexpress recombinant PCSK9. This latter observation indicates that antibodies blocking the PCSK9–LDLR interaction can inhibit the action of PCSK9 produced endogenously in a cell-based system. These antibodies also disrupted the higher-affinity interaction between the natural gain-of-function mutant of PCSK9, D374Y, and the LDLR in both the cell-free and cell-based assays. These data indicate that antibodies targeting PCSK9 can reverse the PCSK9-mediated modulation of cell-surface LDLRs
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