Autophagy is required for sortilin-mediated degradation of apolipoprotein B100

Jaume Amengual, Liang Guo, Alanna Strong, Julio Madrigal-Matute, Haizhen Wang, Susmita Kaushik, Jeffrey L. Brodsky, Daniel J. Rader, Ana Maria Cuervo, Edward A. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Rationale: Genome-wide association studies identifed single-nucleotide polymorphisms near the SORT1 locus strongly associated with decreased plasma LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) levels and protection from atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction. The minor allele of the causal SORT1 singlenucleotide polymorphism locus creates a putative C/EBPa (CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein a)-binding site in the SORT1 promoter, thereby increasing in homozygotes sortilin expression by 12-fold in liver, which is rich in this transcription factor. Our previous studies in mice have showed reductions in plasma LDL-C and its principal protein component, apoB (apolipoprotein B) with increased SORT1 expression, and in vitro studies suggested that sortilin promoted the presecretory lysosomal degradation of apoB associated with the LDL precursor, VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein). Objective: To determine directly that SORT1 overexpression results in apoB degradation and to identify the mechanisms by which this reduces apoB and VLDL secretion by the liver, thereby contributing to understanding the clinical phenotype of lower LDL-C levels. Methods and Results: Pulse-chase studies directly established that SORT1 overexpression results in apoB degradation. As noted above, previous work implicated a role for lysosomes in this degradation. Through in vitro and in vivo studies, we now demonstrate that the sortilin-mediated route of apoB to lysosomes is unconventional and intersects with autophagy. Increased expression of sortilin diverts more apoB away from secretion, with both proteins traffcking to the endosomal compartment in vesicles that fuse with autophagosomes to form amphisomes. The amphisomes then merge with lysosomes. Furthermore, we show that sortilin itself is a regulator of autophagy and that its activity is scaled to the level of apoB synthesis. Conclusions: These results strongly suggest that an unconventional lysosomal targeting process dependent on autophagy degrades apoB that was diverted from the secretory pathway by sortilin and provides a mechanism contributing to the reduced LDL-C found in individuals with SORT1 overexpression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-582
Number of pages15
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Amphisomes
  • Autophagy
  • Liver
  • Sortilin
  • apoB100


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