Published online Dec 21, 2010. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i47.5916
Revised: July 22, 2010
Accepted: July 29, 2010
Published online: December 21, 2010
Scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI) is an important member of the scavenger receptor family of integral membrane glycoproteins. This review highlights studies in SR-BI knockout mice, which concern the role of SR-BI in cholesterol and steroid metabolism. SR-BI in hepatocytes is the sole molecule involved in selective uptake of cholesteryl esters from high-density lipoprotein (HDL). SR-BI plays a physiological role in binding and uptake of native apolipoprotein B (apoB)-containing lipoproteins by hepatocytes, which identifies SR-BI as a multi-purpose player in lipid uptake from the blood circulation into hepatocytes in mice. In adrenocortical cells, SR-BI mediates the selective uptake of HDL-cholesteryl esters, which is efficiently coupled to the synthesis of glucocorticoids (i.e. corticosterone). SR-BI knockout mice suffer from adrenal glucocorticoid insufficiency, which suggests that functional SR-BI protein is necessary for optimal adrenal steroidogenesis in mice. SR-BI in macrophages plays a dual role in cholesterol metabolism as it is able to take up cholesterol associated with HDL and apoB-containing lipoproteins and can possibly facilitate cholesterol efflux to HDL. Absence of SR-BI is associated with thrombocytopenia and altered thrombosis susceptibility, which suggests a novel role for SR-BI in regulating platelet number and function in mice. Transgenic expression of cholesteryl ester transfer protein in humanized SR-BI knockout mice normalizes hepatic delivery of HDL-cholesteryl esters. However, other pathologies associated with SR-BI deficiency, i.e. increased atherosclerosis susceptibility, adrenal glucocorticoid insufficiency, and impaired platelet function are not normalized, which suggests an important role for SR-BI in cholesterol and steroid metabolism in man. In conclusion, generation of SR-BI knockout mice has significantly contributed to our knowledge of the physiological role of SR-BI. Studies using these mice have identified SR-BI as a multi-purpose player in cholesterol and steroid metabolism because it has distinct roles in reverse cholesterol transport, adrenal steroidogenesis, and platelet function.