Syndecans are a family of four transmembrane heparan sulfate proteoglycans that act as coreceptors for a variety of cell-surface ligands and receptors. Receptor activation in several cell types leads to shedding of syndecan-1 and syndecan-4 ectodomains into the extracellular space by metalloproteinase- mediated cleavage of the syndecan core protein. We have found that 3T3-L1 adipocytes express syndecan-1 and syndecan-4 and that their ectodomains are shed in response to insulin in a dose-, time-, and metalloproteinase-dependent manner. Insulin responsive shedding is not seen in 3T3-L1 fibroblasts. This shedding involves both Ras-MAP kinase and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathways. In response to insulin, adipocytes are known to secrete active lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that binds to heparan sulfate on the luminal surface of capillary endothelia. Lipoprotein lipase is transported as a stable enzyme from its site of synthesis to its site of action, but the transport mechanism is unknown. Our studies indicate that shed adipocyte syndecans associate with lipoprotein lipase. The shed syndecan ectodomain can stabilize active lipoprotein lipase. These data suggest that syndecan ectodomains, shed by adipocytes in response to insulin, are physiological extracellular chaperones for lipoprotein lipase as it translocates from its site of synthesis to its site of action.
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