Taking One Step Back in Familial Hypercholesterolemia: STAP1 Does Not Alter Plasma LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) Cholesterol in Mice and Humans

Natalia Loaiza, Merel L. Hartgers,, Laurens F Reeskamp, Jan-Willem Balder, Antoine Rimbert, Venetia Bazioti, Justina Clarinda Wolters, Maaike Winkelmeijer, Hans P.G. Jansen, Geesje M. Dallinga-Thie, Andrea Volta, Nienke Huijkman, Marieke Smit, Niels Kloosterhuis, Mirjam Koster, Arthur Flohr Svendsen, B van de Sluis, G. Kees Hovingh, Aldo Grefhorst*, Jan Albert Kuivenhoven*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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OBJECTIVE: STAP1, encoding for STAP1 (signal transducing adaptor family member 1), has been reported as a candidate gene associated with familial hypercholesterolemia. Unlike established familial hypercholesterolemia genes, expression of STAP1 is absent in liver but mainly observed in immune cells. In this study, we set out to validate STAP1 as a familial hypercholesterolemia gene. APPROACH AND RESULTS: A whole-body Stap1 knockout mouse model (Stap1-/-) was generated and characterized, without showing changes in plasma lipid levels compared with controls. In follow-up studies, bone marrow from Stap1-/- mice was transplanted to Ldlr-/- mice, which did not show significant changes in plasma lipid levels or atherosclerotic lesions. To functionally assess whether STAP1 expression in B cells can affect hepatic function, HepG2 cells were cocultured with peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from heterozygotes carriers of STAP1 variants and controls. The peripheral blood mononuclear cells from STAP1 variant carriers and controls showed similar LDLR mRNA and protein levels. Also, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) uptake by HepG2 cells did not differ upon coculturing with peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from either STAP1 variant carriers or controls. In addition, plasma lipid profiles of 39 carriers and 71 family controls showed no differences in plasma LDL cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipoprotein(a) levels. Similarly, B-cell populations did not differ in a group of 10 STAP1 variant carriers and 10 age- and sex-matched controls. Furthermore, recent data from the UK Biobank do not show association between STAP1 rare gene variants and LDL cholesterol. CONCLUSIONS: Our combined studies in mouse models and carriers of STAP1 variants indicate that STAP1 is not a familial hypercholesterolemia gene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-985
Number of pages13
JournalArteriosclerosis thrombosis and vascular biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2020


  • atherosclerosis
  • cholesterol
  • genetics
  • hyperlipoproteinemia type II
  • mice
  • GENE
  • BRDG1
  • RARE

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