Autophagy modulates lipid turnover, cell survival, inflammation, and atherogenesis. Scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI) plays a crucial role in lysosome function. Here, we demonstrate that SR-BI regulates autophagy in atherosclerosis. SR-BI deletion attenuated lipid-induced expression of autophagy mediators in macrophages and atherosclerotic aortas. Consequently, SR-BI deletion resulted in 1.8- and 2.5-fold increases in foam cell formation and apoptosis, respectively, and increased oxidized LDL–induced inflammatory cytokine expression. Pharmacological activation of autophagy failed to reduce lipid content or apoptosis in Sr-b1–/– macrophages. SR-BI deletion reduced both basal and inducible levels of transcription factor EB (TFEB), a master regulator of autophagy, causing decreased expression of autophagy genes encoding VPS34 and Beclin-1. Notably, SR-BI regulated Tfeb expression by enhancing PPARα activation. Moreover, intracellular macrophage SR-BI localized to autophagosomes, where it formed cholesterol domains resulting in enhanced association of Barkor and recruitment of the VPS34–Beclin-1 complex. Thus, SR-BI deficiency led to lower VPS34 activity in macrophages and in atherosclerotic aortic tissues. Overexpression of Tfeb or Vps34 rescued the defective autophagy in Sr-b1–/– macrophages. Taken together, our results show that macrophage SR-BI regulates autophagy via Tfeb expression and recruitment of the VPS34–Beclin-1 complex, thus identifying previously unrecognized roles for SR-BI and potentially novel targets for the treatment of atherosclerosis.


Huan Tao, Patricia G. Yancey, John L. Blakemore, Youmin Zhang, Lei Ding, W. Gray Jerome, Jonathan D. Brown, Kasey C. Vickers, MacRae F. Linton


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