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J Cell Biol. 2011 Jan 10;192(1):153-69. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201009136. Epub 2011 Jan 3.

Heparan sulfate proteoglycan syndecan-3 is a novel receptor for GDNF, neurturin, and artemin.

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  • 1Institute of Biotechnology, Viikki Biocenter, and 2 Neuroscience Center, University of Helsinki, Helsinki 00014, Finland.


Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family ligands (GFLs) are potent survival factors for dopaminergic neurons and motoneurons with therapeutic potential for Parkinson's disease. Soluble GFLs bind to a ligand-specific glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored coreceptor (GDNF family receptor α) and signal through the receptor tyrosine kinase RET. In this paper, we show that all immobilized matrix-bound GFLs, except persephin, use a fundamentally different receptor. They interact with syndecan-3, a transmembrane heparan sulfate (HS) proteoglycan, by binding to its HS chains with high affinity. GFL-syndecan-3 interaction mediates both cell spreading and neurite outgrowth with the involvement of Src kinase activation. GDNF promotes migration of cortical neurons in a syndecan-3-dependent manner, and in agreement, mice lacking syndecan-3 or GDNF have a reduced number of cortical γ-aminobutyric acid-releasing neurons, suggesting a central role for the two molecules in cortical development. Collectively, syndecan-3 may directly transduce GFL signals or serve as a coreceptor, presenting GFLs to the signaling receptor RET.

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