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Glycobiology. 2007 Sep;17(9):897-905. Epub 2007 Apr 18.

Perlecan--a multifunctional extracellular proteoglycan scaffold.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA.


Perlecan is a large multidomain heparan sulfate proteoglycan of the extracellular matrix. Expression of this proteoglycan changes dynamically during embryo implantation and placentation. Perlecan is expressed by various cells of the embryo including trophectoderm and trophoblast as well as the maternal compartment, including basal lamina underlying uterine epithelia and endothelia and, most dynamically, in developing decidua. Perlecan supports various biological functions, including cell adhesion, growth factor binding, and modulation of apoptosis. Moreover, studies in other systems demonstrate that perlecan expression and activity can be controlled at many levels, including transcription, alternative splicing, and extracellular proteolysis. This review will discuss changes in perlecan expression that occur during embryo implantation and placentation. Furthermore, we propose a model in which perlecan represents an extracellular scaffold protein that supports complex, distinct functions in its full-length form or smaller forms generated by alternative mRNA splicing, extracellular proteolysis, or glycosidase action.

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