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Identification and characterization of a novel heparan sulfate-binding domain in Activin A longest variants and implications for function.


ABSTRACT: Activins regulate numerous processes including inflammation and are synthesized as precursors consisting of a long N-terminal pro-region and a mature protein. Genomic human databases currently list three activin A (Act A) variants termed X1, X2 and X3. The X3 variant is the shortest, lacks N-terminal segments present in X1 and X2, and has been the focus of most past literature. Here, we asked whether these variants are expressed by human cells and tissues and what structural features are contained within their pro-regions. Human monocytic-like cells THP1 and U937 expressed X1 and X2 variants after exposure to phorbol ester or granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, while X2 transcripts were present in placenta. Expression vectors encoding full length X2 or X3 variants resulted in production and secretion of biologically active Act A from cultured cells. Previous studies reported a putative HS-binding domain (HBD) in the X3 pro-region. Here, we identified a novel HBD with consensus HS-binding motifs near the N-terminal end of X1 and X2 pro-regions. Peptides encompassing this new domain interacted with substrate-bound HS with nanomolar affinity, while peptides from putative X3 HBD did not. In good agreement, full length X2 pro-region interacted with heparin-agarose, while the X3 pro-region did not. In sum, our study reveals that Act A variants are expressed by inflammatory cells and placenta and yield biological activity. The high affinity HBD in X1 and X2 pro-region and its absence in X3 could greatly influence overall Act A distribution, availability and activity in physiological and pathological circumstances.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6752817 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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