Dept. of Medicine
Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care
National Institutes of Health
Dr. Segrest is a Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and Pathology, Director of the Atherosclerosis Research Unit and Director of the Atherosclerosis Reversal and Lipid Clinic. He is the Program Director for an NHLBI Program Project, P01HL34343, “Amphipathic Motifs, Lipoproteins And Atherosclerosis” that focuses on development of a comprehensive theory of the interaction of amphipathic motifs with lipid to: (a) determine the minimal structural features of apoA-I that can prevent and/or reverse atherosclerosis, (b) determine the minimal structural features of apoB that are involved in both the biosynthesis of apoB-containing lipoproteins and the structure, function and properties of LDL, and (c) apply this knowledge to understand mechanisms involved in prevention and reversal of atherosclerosis and potentially for the development of pharmacological agents. Proteins that insert into membrane lipids are fundamental to biology and medicine. Dr. Segrest’s research goals have been guided by a recognition that lipid-water interfaces leave a signature in those proteins evolutionarily adapted to interact with lipids. Two "lipid signatures" have been discovered by his research program, the amphipathic a helix (1) and the amphipathic b sheet (2). These two "lipid signatures" are being used in three separate studies of the structural biology of plasma lipoproteins. i)He developed the first detailed molecular model for HDL and is currently testing the model by site-directed mutagenesis and molecular dynamics simulations. ii) He developed a molecular model for the assembly of apoB-containing particles and is currently testing the model by site-directed mutagenesis and molecular modeling. iii) Finally, he is in the process of developing a detailed molecular model for LDL. His team approaches these research topics through use of computer-based molecular modeling and dynamics, rational design and synthesis of peptide analogs, and over-expression of rationally designed site-directed mutant human apolipoproteins in E. coli, in mammalian cells in culture, and in transgenic mouse models of atherosclerosis.
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