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Am J Physiol. 1992 Sep;263(3 Pt 1):L348-56.

Alveolar type II cells synthesize hydrophobic cell-associated proteoglycans with multiple core proteins.

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Department of Pediatrics, Strong Children's Research Center, University of Rochester, New York 14642.


Type II alveolar epithelial cells interact with the extracellular matrix via cell surface receptors for matrix ligands. Cell surface proteoglycans, which are hydrophobic due to their membrane insertion domains, are one of several classes of molecules that may be receptors for matrix ligands. To analyze the hydrophobic proteoglycans synthesized by adult alveolar type II cells, we labeled these cells with 35SO4 and [3H]leucine in short-term primary cultures. Cell-associated hydrophobic proteoglycans and culture medium-derived proteoglycans were purified and characterized. Both the hydrophobic proteoglycans and medium-derived proteoglycans, which were not hydrophobic, had mainly heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans. Analysis of core proteins of the hydrophobic proteoglycans showed three proteins, 47, 65, and 90 kDa. The 47- and 65-kDa core proteins were substituted only with heparan sulfate chains. The 90-kDa core protein was seen only after digestion with both heparitinase and chondroitin ABC lyase, suggesting it was a hybrid having both heparan sulfate and chondroitin-dermatan sulfate chains. These findings were confirmed by iodination of the core proteins. The hydrophobic cell-associated proteoglycans inserted into artificial liposomes, whereas the medium-derived molecules did not. These data document heterogeneity in core protein and glycosaminoglycan chains among hydrophobic proteoglycans synthesized in vitro by adult alveolar type II cells. These molecules may have diverse functions in regulating type II cell interaction with the extracellular matrix.

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