The Wnt proteins constitute a conserved family of secreted palmitoleate-containing signaling proteins that play important roles in development and tissue homeostasis. Their hydrophobic nature has raised the question of how the proteins are transported outside the cells. Accumulating evidence suggests that several different mechanisms, including transport by lipoprotein particles and exosomes, may contribute to this process. Here, we expressed epitope-tagged Wnt4 in HEK293 cells, and identified Mac-2 binding protein (Mac-2BP) as its binding partner in the serum-free conditioned medium. Serine-to-alanine substitution at the conserved fatty acid-conjugation site did not affect Mac-2BP binding. Subsequent studies showed that Mac-2BP may be a general Wnt interactor. It is found in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of various tissues, where it forms unusual oligomeric ring-like structures. Its functions appear to include interactions with cells and certain ECM components. Intriguingly, both Wnt signaling and Mac-2BP expression are upregulated in many types of cancer. Our studies on the four-domain Mac-2BP indicate a crucial role in Wnt binding for the C-terminal domain that bears no sequence similarity to any other protein. Mac-2BP may have a role in regulating the extracellular spreading and storage of the Wnts, thereby modulating their bioavailability and stability.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications – Elsevier
Published: Sep 30, 2017
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