Dynamic Actin Reorganization and Vav/Cdc42-Dependent Actin Polymerization Promote Macrophage Aggregated LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) Uptake and Catabolism
Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton
Objective- During atherosclerosis, LDLs (low-density lipoproteins) accumulate in the arteries, where they become modified, aggregated, and retained. Such deposits of aggregated LDL (agLDL) can be recognized by macrophages, which attempt to digest and clear them. AgLDL catabolism promotes internalization of cholesterol and foam cell formation, which leads to the progression of atherosclerosis. Therapeutic blockade of this process may delay disease progression. When macrophages interact with agLDL in vitro, they form a novel extracellular, hydrolytic compartment-the lysosomal synapse (LS)-aided by local actin polymerization to digest agLDL. Here, we investigated the specific regulators involved in actin polymerization during the formation of the LS. Approach and Results- We demonstrate in vivo that atherosclerotic plaque macrophages contacting agLDL deposits polymerize actin and form a compartment strikingly similar to those made in vitro. Live cell imaging revealed that macrophage cortical F-actin depolymerization is required for actin polymerization to support the formation of the LS. This depolymerization is cofilin-1 dependent. Using siRNA-mediated silencing, pharmacological inhibition, genetic knockout, and stable overexpression, we elucidate key roles for Cdc42 Rho GTPase and GEF (guanine nucleotide exchange factor) Vav in promoting actin polymerization during the formation of the LS and exclude a role for Rac1. Conclusions- These results highlight critical roles for dynamic macrophage F-actin rearrangement and polymerization via cofilin-1, Vav, and Cdc42 in LS formation, catabolism of agLDL, and foam cell formation. These proteins might represent therapeutic targets to treat atherosclerotic disease.