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Biochem J. 2005 Sep 1;390(Pt 2):493-9.

The human D-glucuronyl C5-epimerase gene is transcriptionally activated through the beta-catenin-TCF4 pathway.

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Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Thomas Jefferson University, 1020 Locust Street, JAH 371, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


Heparan sulphate (HS) is a ubiquitous constituent of the extracellular matrix that is required for the biological activity of circulating soluble and insoluble extracellular ligands. GLCE (D-glucuronyl C5-epimerase), an enzyme responsible for the epimerization of D-glucuronic acid into L-iduronic acid of HS, endows the nascent polysaccharide chain with the ability to bind to growth factors and cytokines. In order to examine the mechanism of regulation of GLCE expression, the functional organization of the human GLCE gene promoter has been investigated. Studies utilizing stepwise deleted and site-directed mutagenized promoter constructs have shed light on the functional relevance of two cis-acting binding elements for the beta-catenin-TCF4 complex (where TCF4 stands for T-cell factor 4) that are located in the enhancer region of the promoter. The ability of the putative binding sequences to bind the beta-catenin-TCF4 complex has been confirmed through electrophoretic mobility-shift and supershift analyses. We have found that, in a set of human colon carcinoma cell lines, the expression of GLCE correlates with the degree of activation of the beta-catenin-TCF4 transactivation complex. Furthermore, the ectopic expression of beta-catenin-TCF4 in cells that constitutively express low levels of the transactivation complex produces a significant increase of GLCE transcript level and, at the same time, enhances the rate of D-glucuronic acid epimerization in HS. The data obtained are consistent with the idea that the beta-catenin-TCF4 transactivation pathway plays a major role in modulating GLCE expression, thus contributing to the regulation of HS biosynthesis and its structural organization.

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