Interplay between Asters/GRAMD1s and phosphatidylserine in intermembrane transport of LDL cholesterol

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10 Scopus citations


Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) delivers cholesterol to mammalian cells through receptor-mediated endocytosis. The LDL cholesterol is liberated in lysosomes and transported to the plasma membrane (PM) and from there to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Excess ER cholesterol is esterified with a fatty acid for storage as cholesteryl esters. Recently, we showed that PM-to-ER transport of LDL cholesterol requires phosphatidylserine (PS). Others showed that PM-to-ER transport of cholesterol derived from other sources requires Asters (also called GRAMD1s), a family of three ER proteins that bridge between the ER and PM by binding to PS. Here, we use a cholesterol esterification assay and other measures of ER cholesterol delivery to demonstrate that Asters participate in PM-to-ER transport of LDL cholesterol in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Knockout of the gene encoding PTDSS1, the major PS-synthesizing enzyme, lowered LDL-stimulated cholesterol esterification by 85%, whereas knockout of all three Aster genes lowered esterification by 65%. The reduction was even greater (94%) when the genes encoding PTDSS1 and the three Asters were knocked out simultaneously. We conclude that Asters participate in LDL cholesterol delivery from PM to ER, and their action depends in large part, but not exclusively, on PS. The data also indicate that PS participates in another delivery pathway, so far undefined, that is independent of Asters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2120411119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 11 2022


  • Aster/GRAMD1 proteins
  • Cholesterol
  • Mammalian cells
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Plasma membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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