- It has been proposed that clearance of cholesterol-enriched very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) particles occurs through a multistep process beginning with their initial binding to cell-surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG), followed by their uptake into cells by a receptor-mediated process that utilizes members of the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) family, including the low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP). We have further explored the relationship between HSPG binding of VLDL and its subsequent internalization by focusing on the LRP pathway using a cell line deficient in LDLR. In this study, we show that LRP and HSPG are part of a co-immunoprecipitable complex at the cell surface demonstrating a novel association for these two cell surface receptors. Cell surface binding assays show that this complex can be disrupted by an LRP-specific ligand binding antagonist, which in turn leads to increased VLDL binding and degradation. The increase in VLDL binding results from an increase in the availability of HSPG sites as treatment with heparinase or competitors of glycosaminoglycan chain addition eliminated the augmented binding. From these results we propose a model whereby LRP regulates the availability of VLDL binding sites at the cell surface by complexing with HSPG. Once HSPG dissociates from LRP, it is then able to bind and internalize VLDL independent of LRP endocytic activity. We conclude that HSPG and LRP together participate in VLDL clearance by means of a synergistic relationship.