PRELP (proline/arginine-rich end leucine-rich repeat protein) is a member of the leucine-rich repeat (LRR) family of extracellular matrix proteins in connective tissue. In contrast with other members of the family, the N-terminal domain of PRELP has a high content of proline and positively charged amino acids. This domain has previously been shown to bind chondrocytes and to inhibit osteoclast differentiation. In the present study, we show that PRELP mediates cell adhesion by binding to cell-surface glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Thus, rat skin fibroblasts (RSFs) bound to full-length PRELP and to the N-terminal part of PRELP alone, but not to truncated PRELP lacking the positively charged N-terminal region. Cell attachment to PRELP was inhibited by addition of soluble heparin or heparan sulfate (HS), by blocking sulfation of the fibroblasts or by treating the cells with a combination of chondroitinase and heparinase. Using affinity chromatography, we identified syndecan-1, syndecan-4 and glypican-1 as cell-surface proteoglycans (PGs) binding to the N-terminal part of PRELP. Finally, we show that the N-terminal domain of PRELP in combination with the integrin-binding domain of fibronectin, but neither of the fragments alone, induced fibroblast focal adhesion formation. These findings provide support for a role of the N-terminal region of PRELP as an important regulator of cell adhesion and behaviour, which may be of importance in pathological conditions.

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