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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Feb 1;108(5):1914-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1019443108. Epub 2011 Jan 18.

Wild-type LRP6 inhibits, whereas atherosclerosis-linked LRP6R611C increases PDGF-dependent vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation is an important event in atherosclerosis and other vasculopathies. PDGF signaling is a key mediator of SMC proliferation, but the mechanisms that control its activity remain unclear. We previously identified a mutation in LDL receptor-related protein 6 (LRP6), LRP6(R611C), that causes early atherosclerosis. Examination of human atherosclerotic coronary arteries showed markedly increased expression of LRP6 and colocalization with PDGF receptor β (PDGFR-β). Further investigation showed that wild-type LRP6 inhibits but LRP6(R611C) promotes VSMC proliferation in response to PDGF. We found that wild-type LRP6 forms a complex with PDGFR-β and enhances its lysosomal degradation, functions that are severely impaired in LRP6(R611C). Further, we observed that wild-type and mutant LRP6 regulate cell-cycle activity by triggering differential effects on PDGF-dependent pathways. These findings implicate LRP6 as a critical modulator of PDGF-dependent regulation of cell cycle in smooth muscle and indicate that loss of this function contributes to development of early atherosclerosis in humans.

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