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J Biol Chem. 2002 May 17;277(20):18069-76. Epub 2002 Mar 8.

Characterization of neuropilin-1 structural features that confer binding to semaphorin 3A and vascular endothelial growth factor 165.

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Department of Neuroscience, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Neuropilin-1 (Npn-1) is a receptor for both semaphorin 3A (Sema3A) and vascular endothelial growth factor 165 (VEGF(165)). To understand the role Npn-1 plays as a receptor for these structurally and functionally unrelated ligands, we set out to identify structural features of Npn-1 that confer binding to Sema3A or VEGF(165). We constructed Npn-1 variants containing deletions within the "a" and "b" domains of Npn-1. More than 16 variants were expressed in COS-1 cells and tested for alkaline phosphatase-Sema3A as well as alkaline phosphatase-VEGF(165) binding. Our results indicate that each of the two Npn-1 CUB domains and the amino-terminal coagulation factor V/VIII domain (CF V/VIII) are essential for Sema3A binding, but only the amino-terminal Npn-1 CF V/VIII domain is required for binding to VEGF(165). Guided by the structure of the bovine spermadhesin CUB domain, point mutants targeting defined surfaces of the Npn-1 a1 CUB domain were generated and tested for Sema3A and VEGF(165) binding. One Npn-1 variant, Npn-1(2ABC), exhibits complete loss of Sema3A binding while retaining normal VEGF(165) binding. Moreover, co-immunoprecipitation experiments show that Npn-1(2ABC) can form a signaling complex with the VEGF(165) signaling receptor KDR/VEGFR-2. These results establish the identity of contact sites between Npn-1 and its semaphorin ligands, and they provide a foundation for understanding how Npn-1 functions as a receptor for distinct classes of ligands in vivo.

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