Heparan sulfate proteoglycans regulate various physiological and developmental processes through interactions with a number of protein ligands. Heparan sulfate (HS)-ligand binding depends on the amount and patterns of sulfate groups on HS, which are controlled by various HS sulfotransferases in the Golgi apparatus as well as extracellular 6-O-endosulfatases called "Sulfs." Sulfs are a family of secreted molecules that specifically remove 6-O-sulfate groups within the highly sulfated regions on HS. Vertebrate Sulfs promote Wnt signaling, whereas the only Drosophila homologue of Sulfs, Sulf1, negatively regulates Wingless (Wg) signaling. To understand the molecular mechanism for the negative regulation of Wg signaling by Sulf1, we studied the effects of Sulf1 on HS-Wg interaction and Wg stability. Sulf1 overexpression strongly inhibited the binding of Wg to Dally, a potential target heparan sulfate proteoglycan of Sulf1. This effect of Drosophila Sulf1 on the HS-Wg interaction is similar to that of vertebrate Sulfs. Using in vitro, in vivo, and ex vivo systems, we show that Sulf1 reduces extracellular Wg protein levels, at least partly by facilitating Wg degradation. In addition, expression of human Sulf1 in the Drosophila wing disc lowers the levels of extracellular Wg protein, as observed for Drosophila Sulf1. Our study demonstrates that vertebrate and Drosophila Sulfs have an intrinsically similar activity and that the function of Sulfs in the fate of Wnt/Wg ligands is context-dependent.
|Name||Journal of Biological Chemistry|