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J Biol Chem. 2010 Jan 15;285(3):1781-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.075952. Epub 2009 Nov 13.

N-linked glycosylation is essential for the stability but not the signaling function of the interleukin-6 signal transducer glycoprotein 130.

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CONARIS Research Institute AG, 24118 Kiel, Germany.


N-Linked glycosylation is an important determinant of protein structure and function. The interleukin-6 signal transducer glycoprotein 130 (gp130) is a common co-receptor for cytokines of the interleukin (IL)-6 family and is N-glycosylated at 9 of 11 potential sites. Whereas N-glycosylation of the extracellular domains D1-D3 of gp130 has been shown to be dispensable for binding of the gp130 ligand IL-6 and its cognate receptor in vitro, the role of the N-linked glycans on domains D4 and D6 is still unclear. We have mutated the asparagines of all nine functional N-glycosylation sites of gp130 to glutamine and systematically analyzed the consequences of deleted N-glycosylation (dNG) in both cellular gp130 and in a soluble gp130-IgG1-Fc fusion protein (sgp130Fc). Our results show that sgp130Fc-dNG is inherently unstable and degrades rapidly under conditions that do not harm wild-type sgp130Fc. Consistently, the bulk of cellular gp130-dNG is not transported to the plasma membrane but is degraded in the proteasome. However, the small quantities of gp130-dNG, which do reach the cell surface, are still able to activate the key gp130 signaling target signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3) upon binding of the agonistic complex of IL-6 and soluble IL-6 receptor. In conclusion, N-linked glycosylation is required for the stability but not the signal-transducing function of gp130.

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