Versican is a large extracellular matrix (ECM) chondroitin sulfate (CS) proteoglycan found in most soft tissues, which is encoded by the VCAN gene. At least four major isoforms (V0, V1, V2, and V3) are generated via alternative splicing. The isoforms of versican are expressed and accumulate in various tissues during development and disease, where they contribute to ECM structure, cell growth and migration, and immune regulation, among their many functions. While several studies have identified the mRNA transcript for the V3 isoform in a number of tissues, little is known about the synthesis, secretion, and targeting of the V3 protein. In this study, we used lentiviral generation of doxycycline-inducible rat V3 with a C-terminal tag in stable NIH 3T3 cell lines and demonstrated that V3 is processed through the classical secretory pathway. We further show that N-linked glycosylation is required for efficient secretion and solubility of the protein. By site-directed mutagenesis, we identified amino acids 57 and 330 as the active N-linked glycosylation sites on V3 when expressed in this cell type. Furthermore, exon deletion constructs of V3 revealed that exons 11-13, which code for portions of the carboxy region of the protein (G3 domain), are essential for V3 processing and secretion. Once secreted, the V3 protein associates with hyaluronan along the cell surface and within the surrounding ECM. These results establish critical parameters for the processing, solubility, and targeting of the V3 isoform by mammalian cells and establishes a role for V3 in the organization of hyaluronan.
Keywords: Extracellular matrix; Hyaluronan; N-linked glycosylation; Versican.
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