Three-dimensional structure of low density lipoproteins by electron cryomicroscopy Academic Article Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Lipoproteins, HDL


  • Human low density lipoproteins (LDL) are the major cholesterol carriers in the blood. Elevated concentration of LDL is a major risk factor for atherosclerotic disease. Purified LDL particles appear heterogeneous in images obtained with a 400-kV electron cryomicroscope. Using multivariate statistical and cluster analyses, an ensemble of randomly oriented particle images has been subdivided into homogeneous subpopulations, and the largest subset was used for three-dimensional reconstruction. In contrast to the general belief that below the lipid phase-transition temperature (30 degrees C) LDL are quasi-spherical microemulsion particles with a radially layered core-shell organization, our three-dimensional map shows that LDL have a well-defined and stable organization. Particles consist of a higher-density outer shell and lower-density inner lamellae-like layers that divide the core into compartments. The outer shell consists of apolipoprotein B-100, phospholipids, and some free cholesterol.

publication date

  • July 20, 1999



  • Academic Article


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.96.15.8420

PubMed ID

  • 10411890

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 8420

end page

  • 5


  • 96


  • 15