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The Journal of Biological Chemistry


We reported previously that apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) is oxidatively modified in the artery wall at tyrosine 166 (Tyr166), serving as a preferred site for post-translational modification through nitration. Recent studies, however, question the extent and functional importance of apoA-I Tyr166 nitration based upon studies of HDL-like particles recovered from atherosclerotic lesions. We developed a monoclonal antibody (mAb 4G11.2) that recognizes, in both free and HDL-bound forms, apoA-I harboring a 3-nitrotyrosine at position 166 apoA-I (NO2-Tyr166-apoA-I) to investigate the presence, distribution, and function of this modified apoA-I form in atherosclerotic and normal artery wall. We also developed recombinant apoA-I with site-specific 3-nitrotyrosine incorporation only at position 166 using an evolved orthogonal nitro-Tyr-aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase/tRNACUA pair for functional studies. Studies with mAb 4G11.2 showed that NO2-Tyr166-apoA-I was easily detected in atherosclerotic human coronary arteries and accounted for ∼8% of total apoA-I within the artery wall but was nearly undetectable (>100-fold less) in normal coronary arteries. Buoyant density ultracentrifugation analyses showed that NO2-Tyr166-apoA-I existed as a lipid-poor lipoprotein with <3% recovered within the HDL-like fraction (d = 1.063–1.21). NO2-Tyr166-apoA-I in plasma showed a similar distribution. Recovery of NO2-Tyr166-apoA-I using immobilized mAb 4G11.2 showed an apoA-I form with 88.1 ± 8.5% reduction in lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase activity, a finding corroborated using a recombinant apoA-I specifically designed to include the unnatural amino acid exclusively at position 166. Thus, site-specific nitration of apoA-I at Tyr166 is an abundant modification within the artery wall that results in selective functional impairments. Plasma levels of this modified apoA-I form may provide insights into a pathophysiological process within the diseased artery wall.


This work was supported, in whole or in part, by National Institutes of Health Grants P01HL098055, P01HL076491, and HL17964.




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