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Biol Chem. 1998 Aug-Sep;379(8-9):951-64.

Receptors of the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor family in man. Multiple functions of the large family members via interaction with complex ligands.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Aarhus, Denmark.


The LDL receptor family members are endocytic receptors composed of repeated protein modules, including clusters of ligand binding LDL receptor class A (LA) repeats. The large (approximately 600 kDa) members LRP and megalin bind numerous structurally unrelated and often complex ligands at different combinations of sites. LRP is expressed in a wide but restricted set of cell types including hepatocytes, macrophages, smooth muscle cells, and neurons of the CNS. Megalin is expressed in various epithelia including proximal kidney tubules, intestine, and ependymal cells. The two receptors share a multitude of ligands, and their function in vivo is therefore to a large extent determined by their expression pattern. For example, both receptors can endocytose lipoproteins, but this function appears mainly relevant for LRP. In addition, LRP helps regulating urokinase receptor expression on the cell surface via ligand-mediated internalization followed by return of the naked urokinase receptor to the cell surface. Both receptors also have specialist functions. LRP is specific for binding of alpha2-macroglobulin-proteinase complexes and provides clearance of the complexes and of peptides, e.g. cytokines, associated with the complex. Megalin has important functions in vitamin B12 homeostasis since it specifically mediates uptake of the vitamin B12-transcobalamin complex and helps building a storage pool for the vitamin in the kidneys. Moreover, megalin binds cubilin, the recently identified receptor for B12-intrinsic factor complex, thus providing a mechanism for uptake of dietary vitamin B12. Finally, megalin specifically mediates uptake of apolipoprotein J/clusterin, a binding protein for the Abeta peptide implicated in Alzheimer's disease. The binding of multiple complex ligands that belong to distinct physiological systems provides a challenge in future studies aiming at elucidating the role of LRP and megalin in disease mechanisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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