The primary structure of the large human basement membrane heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) core protein was determined from cDNA clones. The cDNA sequence codes for a 467-kD protein with a 21-residue signal peptide. Analysis of the amino acid sequence showed that the protein consists of five domains. The amino-terminal domain I contains three putative heparan sulfate attachment sites; domain II has four LDL receptor-like repeats; domain III contains repeats similar to those in the short arms of laminin; domain IV has lg-like repeats resembling those in neural cell adhesion molecules; and domain V contains sequences resembling repeats in the G domain of the laminin A chain and repeats in the EGF. The domain structure of the human basement membrane HSPG core protein suggests that this mosaic protein has evolved through shuffling of at least four different functional elements previously identified in other proteins and through duplication of these elements to form the functional domains. Comparison of the human amino acid sequence with a partial amino acid sequence from the corresponding mouse protein (Noonan, D. M., E. A. Horigan, S. R. Ledbetter, G. Vogeli, M. Sasaki, Y. Yamada, and J. R. Hassell. 1988. J. Biol. Chem. 263:16379-16387) shows a major difference between the species in domain IV, which contains the Ig repeats: seven additional repeats are found in the human protein inserted in the middle of the second repeat in the mouse sequence. This suggests either alternative splicing or a very recent duplication event in evolution. The multidomain structure of the basement membrane HSPG implies a versatile role for this protein. The heparan sulfate chains presumably participate in the selective permeability of basement membranes and, additionally, the core protein may be involved in a number of biological functions such as cell binding, LDL-metabolism, basement membrane assembly, calcium binding, and growth- and neurite-promoting activities.

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