ARTICLE ABSTRACTThe secreted lipid transporter apolipoprotein E (APOE) plays important roles in atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease and has been implicated as a suppressor of melanoma progression. The APOE germline genotype predicts human melanoma outcomes, with APOE4 and APOE2 allele carriers exhibiting prolonged and reduced survival, respectively, relative to APOE3 homozygotes. While the APOE4 variant was recently shown to suppress melanoma progression by enhancing antitumor immunity, further work is needed to fully characterize the melanoma cell-intrinsic effects of APOE variants on cancer progression. Using a genetically engineered mouse model, we showed that human germline APOE genetic variants differentially modulate melanoma growth and metastasis in an APOE2>APOE3>APOE4 manner. The low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) receptor mediated the cell-intrinsic effects of APOE variants on melanoma progression. Protein synthesis was a tumor cell-intrinsic process differentially modulated by APOE variants, with APOE2 promoting translation via LRP1. These findings reveal a gain-of-function role for the APOE2 variant in melanoma progression, which may aid in predicting melanoma patient outcomes and understanding the protective effect of APOE2 in Alzheimer's disease.
APOE germline variants impact melanoma progression through disparate mechanisms, such as the protein synthesis–promoting function of the APOE2 variant, indicating that germline genetic variants are causal contributors to metastatic outcomes.