Assessment of the validity of the double superhelix model for reconstituted high density lipoproteins: a combined computational-experimental approach.
For several decades, the standard model for high density lipoprotein (HDL) particles reconstituted from apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) and phospholipid (apoA-I/HDL) has been a discoidal particle ?100 ? in diameter and the thickness of a phospholipid bilayer. Recently, Wu et al. (Wu, Z., Gogonea, V., Lee, X., Wagner, M. A., Li, X. M., Huang, Y., Undurti, A., May, R. P., Haertlein, M., Moulin, M., Gutsche, I., Zaccai, G., Didonato, J. A., and Hazen, S. L. (2009) J. Biol. Chem. 284, 36605-36619) used small angle neutron scattering to develop a new model they termed double superhelix (DSH) apoA-I that is dramatically different from the standard model. Their model possesses an open helical shape that wraps around a prolate ellipsoidal type I hexagonal lyotropic liquid crystalline phase. Here, we used three independent approaches, molecular dynamics, EM tomography, and fluorescence resonance energy transfer spectroscopy (FRET) to assess the validity of the DSH model. (i) By using molecular dynamics, two different approaches, all-atom simulated annealing and coarse-grained simulation, show that initial ellipsoidal DSH particles rapidly collapse to discoidal bilayer structures. These results suggest that, compatible with current knowledge of lipid phase diagrams, apoA-I cannot stabilize hexagonal I phase particles of phospholipid. (ii) By using EM, two different approaches, negative stain and cryo-EM tomography, show that reconstituted apoA-I/HDL particles are discoidal in shape. (iii) By using FRET, reconstituted apoA-I/HDL particles show a 28-34-? intermolecular separation between terminal domain residues 40 and 240, a distance that is incompatible with the dimensions of the DSH model. Therefore, we suggest that, although novel, the DSH model is energetically unfavorable and not likely to be correct. Rather, we conclude that all evidence supports the likelihood that reconstituted apoA-I/HDL particles, in general, are discoidal in shape.