Asialoglycoprotein receptor 1 is a novel PCSK9-independent ligand of liver LDLR cleaved by furin Academic Article uri icon

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  • The hepatic carbohydrate-recognizing asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGR1) mediates the endocytosis/lysosomal degradation of desialylated glycoproteins following binding to terminal galactose/N-acetylgalactosamine. Human heterozygote carriers of ASGR1 deletions exhibit ∼34% lower risk of coronary artery disease and ∼10% to 14% reduction of non-HDL cholesterol. Since the proprotein convertase PCSK9 is a major degrader of the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR), we investigated the degradation and functionality of LDLR and/or PCSK9 by endogenous/overexpressed ASGR1 using Western blot and immunofluorescence in HepG2-naïve and HepG2-PCSK9-knockout cells. ASGR1, like PCSK9, targets LDLR, and both independently interact with/enhance the degradation of the receptor. This lack of cooperativity between PCSK9 and ASGR1 was confirmed in livers of wildtype (WT) and Pcsk9-/- mice. ASGR1 knockdown in HepG2-naïve cells significantly increased total (∼1.2-fold) and cell-surface (∼4-fold) LDLR protein. In HepG2-PCSK9-knockout cells, ASGR1 silencing led to ∼2-fold higher levels of LDLR protein and DiI (1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate)-LDL uptake associated with ∼9-fold increased cell-surface LDLR. Overexpression of WT-ASGR1/2 primarily reduced levels of immature non-O-glycosylated LDLR (∼110 kDa), whereas the triple Ala-mutant of Gln240/Trp244/Glu253 (characterized by loss of carbohydrate binding) reduced expression of the mature form of LDLR (∼150 kDa), suggesting that ASGR1 binds the LDLR in both a sugar-dependent and -independent fashion. The protease furin cleaves ASGR1 at the RKMK103↓ motif into a secreted form, likely resulting in a loss of function on LDLR. Altogether, we demonstrate that LDLR is the first example of a liver-receptor ligand of ASGR1. We conclude that silencing of ASGR1 and PCSK9 may lead to higher LDL uptake by hepatocytes, thereby providing a novel approach to further reduce LDL cholesterol levels.


  • Susan-Resiga, Delia
  • Girard, Emmanuelle
  • Essalmani, Rachid
  • Roubtsova, Anna
  • Marcinkiewicz, Jadwiga
  • Derbali, Rabeb M
  • Evagelidis, Alexandra
  • Byun, Jae H
  • Lebeau, Paul F
  • Austin, Richard C
  • Seidah, Nabil G

publication date

  • October 2021