Structural deciphering of the NG2/CSPG4 proteoglycan multifunctionality

FASEB J. 2019 Mar;33(3):3112-3128. doi: 10.1096/fj.201801670R. Epub 2018 Dec 14.


The chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4 ( CSPG4) gene encodes a transmembrane proteoglycan (PG) constituting the largest and most structurally complex macromolecule of the human surfaceome. Its transcript shows an extensive evolutionary conservation and, due to the elaborated intracellular processing of the translated protein, it generates an array of glycoforms with the potential to exert variant-specific functions. CSPG4-mediated molecular events are articulated through the interaction with more than 40 putative ligands and the concurrent involvement of the ectodomain and cytoplasmic tail. Alternating inside-out and outside-in signal transductions may thereby be elicited through a tight functional connection of the PG with the cytoskeleton and its regulators. The potential of CSPG4 to influence both types of signaling mechanisms is also asserted by its lateral mobility along the plasma membrane and its intersection with microdomain-restricted internalization and endocytic trafficking. Owing to the multitude of molecular interplays that CSPG4 may engage, and thanks to a differential phosphorylation of its intracellular domain accounted by crosstalking signaling pathways, the PG stands out for its unique capability to affect numerous cellular phenomena, including those purporting pathologic conditions. We discuss here the progresses made in advancing our understanding about the structural-functional bases for the ability of CSPG4 to widely impact on cell behavior, such as to highlight how its multivalency may be exploited to interfere with disease progression.-Tamburini, E., Dallatomasina, A., Quartararo, J., Cortelazzi, B., Mangieri, D., Lazzaretti, M., Perris, R. Structural deciphering of the NG2/CSPG4 proteoglycan multifunctionality.

Keywords: extracellular matrix; macromolecular interactions; signal transduction; structure-function relationship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antigens / chemistry*
  • Antigens / genetics
  • Antigens / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans / chemistry
  • Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans / genetics
  • Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology
  • Neurites / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs
  • Proteoglycans / chemistry*
  • Proteoglycans / genetics
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism


  • Antigens
  • CSPG4 protein, human
  • Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Proteoglycans
  • chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4