SR-B1 drives endothelial cell LDL transcytosis via DOCK4 to promote atherosclerosis

Nature. 2019 May;569(7757):565-569. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1140-4. Epub 2019 Apr 24.


Atherosclerosis, which underlies life-threatening cardiovascular disorders such as myocardial infarction and stroke1, is initiated by passage of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol into the artery wall and its engulfment by macrophages, which leads to foam cell formation and lesion development2,3. It is unclear how circulating LDL enters the artery wall to instigate atherosclerosis. Here we show in mice that scavenger receptor class B type 1 (SR-B1) in endothelial cells mediates the delivery of LDL into arteries and its accumulation by artery wall macrophages, thereby promoting atherosclerosis. LDL particles are colocalized with SR-B1 in endothelial cell intracellular vesicles in vivo, and transcytosis of LDL across endothelial monolayers requires its direct binding to SR-B1 and an eight-amino-acid cytoplasmic domain of the receptor that recruits the guanine nucleotide exchange factor dedicator of cytokinesis 4 (DOCK4)4. DOCK4 promotes internalization of SR-B1 and transport of LDL by coupling the binding of LDL to SR-B1 with activation of RAC1. The expression of SR-B1 and DOCK4 is increased in atherosclerosis-prone regions of the mouse aorta before lesion formation, and in human atherosclerotic arteries when compared with normal arteries. These findings challenge the long-held concept that atherogenesis involves passive movement of LDL across a compromised endothelial barrier. Interventions that inhibit the endothelial delivery of LDL into artery walls may represent a new therapeutic category in the battle against cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / cytology
  • Aorta / metabolism
  • Aorta / pathology
  • Arteries / cytology
  • Arteries / metabolism*
  • Arteries / pathology
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cholesterol, LDL / metabolism*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Female
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class B / metabolism*
  • Transcytosis*
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • DOCK4 protein, human
  • Dock4 protein, mouse
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • RAC1 protein, human
  • Rac1 protein, mouse
  • SCARB1 protein, human
  • Scarb1 protein, mouse
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class B
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein