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J Biol Chem. 1996 Aug 9;271(32):19571-7.

Eukaryotic expression of recombinant biglycan. Post-translational processing and the importance of secondary structure for biological activity.

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  • 1Center for Extracellular Matrix Biology, Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Texas A&M University, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Biglycan is a small chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan found in many tissues and is structurally related to decorin, fibromodulin, and lumican. The biological function of biglycan is poorly understood, although several studies have indicated interaction with other extracellular matrix components. We have initiated studies of structural and functional domains of biglycan by transient eukaryotic expression using the vaccinia virus/T7 bacteriophage expression system. A recombinant vaccinia virus, vBGN4 encoding the mature biglycan core protein as a polyhistidine fusion protein under control of the T7 phage promoter was expressed in HT-1080 cells and UMR106 cells. The structure of the recombinant biglycan secreted by these cells was defined by analyzing molecules labeled in the presence of [35S]sulfate, [3H]glucosamine, and [35S]methionine. Glycoforms of biglycan were separated by imidazole gradient elution, under non-denaturing conditions, and comprised: a large proteoglycan form substituted with two chondroitin sulfate chains of molecular mass approximately 34 kDa (HT-1080 cells) or approximately 40 kDa (UMR106 cells); a small proteoglycan form substituted with two chondroitin sulfate chains with a median molecular mass approximately 28 kDa; and a core protein form secreted devoid of glycosaminoglycan chains. All the glycoforms were substituted with two N-linked oligosaccharides, and the disaccharide composition of the two glycosaminoglycan populations were identical. Approximately 70% of the recombinant biglycan secreted by HT-1080 cells was substituted with chondroitin sulfate chains, whereas about 50% of the biglycan expressed by UMR106 cells was substituted with chondroitin sulfate chains. Infection with vBGN4 in both HT-1080 and UMR106 cells resulted in the production of approximately 10 mg of biglycan/10(9) cells per 24 h. The native recombinant biglycan was shown to bind to collagen type V and the complement protein, C1q. However, when the secondary structure of recombinant biglycan was disrupted by exposure to 4 M guanidine hydrochloride, the affinity for collagen type V was dramatically reduced. These data demonstrate the importance of secondary structure to the function of this small proteoglycan.

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