Cultured mouse mammary (NMuMG) cells produce heparan sulfate-rich proteoglycans that are found at the cell surface, in the culture medium, and beneath the monolayer. The cell surface proteoglycan consists of a lipophilic membrane-associated domain and an extracellular domain, or ectodomain, that contains both heparan and chondroitin sulfate chains. During culture, the cells release into the medium a soluble proteoglycan that is indistinguishable from the ectodomain released from the cells by trypsin treatment. This medium ectodomain was isolated, purified, and used as an antigen to prepare an affinity-purified serum antibody from rabbits. The antibody recognizes polypeptide determinants on the core protein of the ectodomain of the cell surface proteoglycan. The reactivity of this antibody was compared with that of a serum antibody (BM-1) directed against the low density basement membrane proteoglycan of the Englebarth-Holm-Swarm tumor (Hassell, J. R., W. C. Leyshon, S. R. Ledbetter, B. Tyree, S. Suzuki, M. Kato, K. Kimata, and H. Kleinman. 1985. J. Biol. Chem. 250:8098-8105). The BM-1 antibody recognized a large, low density heparan sulfate-rich proteoglycan in the cells and in the basal extracellular materials beneath the monolayer where it accumulated in patchy deposits. The affinity-purified anti-ectodomain antibody recognized the cell surface proteoglycan on the cells, where it is seen on apical cell surfaces in subconfluent cultures and in fine filamentous arrays at the basal cell surface in confluent cultures, but detected no proteoglycan in the basal extracellular materials beneath the monolayer. The amino acid composition of the purified medium ectodomain was substantially different from that reported for the basement membrane proteoglycan. Thus, NMuMG cells produce at least two heparan sulfate-rich proteoglycans that contain distinct core proteins, a cell surface proteoglycan, and a basement membrane proteoglycan. In newborn mouse skin, these proteoglycans localize to distinct sites; the basement membrane proteoglycan is seen solely at the dermal-epidermal boundary and the cell surface proteoglycan is seen solely at the surfaces of keratinocytes in the basal, spinous, and granular cell layers. These results suggest that although heparan sulfate-rich proteoglycans may have similar glycosaminoglycan chains, they are sorted by the epithelial cells to different sites on the basis of differences in their core proteins.

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