Processing by convertases is required for Glypican-3-induced inhibition of Hedgehog signaling [Glycobiology and Extracellular Matrices]

February 4th, 2015 by Capurro, M., Shi, W., Izumikawa, T., Filmus, J.

Glypican-3 (GPC3) is one of the six members of the mammalian glypican family. We have previously reported that GPC3 inhibits Hedgehog (Hh) signaling by competing with Patched (Ptc) for Hh binding. We also showed that GPC3 binds with high affinity to Hh through its core protein, but that it does not interact with Ptc. Several members of the glypican family, including GPC3, are subjected to an endoproteolytic cleavage by the furin-like convertase family of endoproteases. Surprisingly, however, we have found that a mutant GPC3 that cannot be processed by convertases is as potent as wild-type GPC3 in stimulating Wnt activity in HCC cell lines and 293T cells, and in promoting HCC growth. In this study we show that processing by convertases is essential for GPC3-induced inhibition of Hh signaling. Moreover, we show that a convertase-resistant GPC3 stimulates Hh signaling by increasing the binding of this growth factor to Ptc. Consistent with this, we show that the convertase-resistant mutant binds to both Hh and Ptc through its heparan sulfate (HS) chains. Unexpectedly, we found that the mutant core protein does not bind to Hh. We also report that the convertase-resistant mutant GPC3 carries HS chains with a significantly higher degree of sulfation than those of wild-type GPC3. We propose that the structural changes generated by the lack of cleavage determine a change in the sulfation of the HS chains, and that these hypersulfated chains mediate the interaction of the mutant GPC3 with Ptc.