N-linked glycosylation of the ligand-binding domain of the human urokinase receptor contributes to the affinity for its ligand

Møller, L.B.; Pöllänen, J.; Rønne, E.; Pedersen, N.; Blasi, F.

Journal of Biological Chemistry 268(15): 11152-11159


ISSN/ISBN: 0021-9258
PMID: 8388383
Accession: 009073131

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Variations in glycosylation exist among urokinase plasminogen activator receptors (u-PARs) from different cell types. We have studied the functional role of N-linked carbohydrate within the ligand-binding domain of u-PAR. Treatment with glycosidases demonstrated that all the N-linked carbohydrates on u-PAR are complex-type oligosaccharides. Substitution of a single Asn (Asn-52) to Gln by means of site-directed mutagenesis led to an active receptor mutant with a ligand-binding domain devoid of carbohydrate. The cellular distribution, the glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol anchoring, and the conformational stability after solubilization were unaffected by this single substitution. However, ligand binding analysis demonstrated a 45-fold decrease in affinity as compared with the wild type receptor. Two different strategies were used in order to obtain a u-PAR type completely devoid of N-linked carbohydrates. 1) Tunicamycin treatment of wild type u-PAR-expressing cells. 2) Mutation of all glycosylation sites (Hu-PAR-N5-mut). In neither case, un-glycosylated receptors with ligand binding activity were identified. However, immunofluorescence studies demonstrated that the Hu-PAR-N5-mut was retained inside the cells in the endoplasmic reticulum. The same result was found for Hu-PAR-N4-mut, where only the glycosylation sites outside the binding domain were mutated. These results demonstrate that some extent of glycosylation of u-PAR is necessary for cellular transport and for molecular maturation events leading to ligand binding activity. Glycosylation of the binding domain per se affects only the affinity of the receptor. The positive modulation of the Asn-52 carbohydrate side chain on ligand affinity suggests that the u-PAR glycosylation variants observed in various cell types may have different functional roles.