The binding of advanced glycation end-products (AGE) to the receptor for AGE (RAGE) is known to deteriorate various cell functions and is implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic vascular complications. In the present study, we show that the cellular constituents of small vessels, endothelial cells (EC) and pericytes express novel splice variants of RAGE mRNA coding for the isoforms that lack the N-terminal V-type immunoglobulin-like domain (N-truncated) or the C-terminal transmembrane domain (C-truncated), as well as the known full-length mRNA. The ratio of the expression of the three variants was different between EC and pericytes; the content of the C-truncated form was highest in EC, whereas the full-length form was the most abundant in pericytes. Transfection experiments with COS-7 cells demonstrated that those variant mRNAs were translated into proteins as deduced; C-truncated RAGE was efficiently secreted into the culture media, and N-truncated RAGE was located mainly on the plasma membrane. The three isoforms were also detected in primary cultured human EC and pericytes. Further, full-length and C-truncated forms of RAGE bound to an AGE-conjugated column, whereas N-truncated RAGE did not. The AGE induction of extracellular-signal-related kinase phosphorylation and vascular endothelial growth factor in EC and of the growth and cord-like structure formation of EC was abolished completely by C-truncated RAGE, indicating that this endogenous secretory receptor (endogenous secretory RAGE) is cytoprotective against AGE. The results may contribute to our understanding of the molecular basis for the diversity of cellular responses to AGE and for individual variations in the susceptibility to diabetic vascular complications.

Abbreviations used: AGE, advanced glycation end-products; EC, endothelial cell(s); ECD, extracellular domain; ERK, extracellular-signal-related kinase; esRAGE, endogenous secretory RAGE; FBS, foetal bovine serum; HA, haemagglutinin; MTT, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide; NF-κB, nuclear factor-κB; poly(A)+, polyadenylated; RAGE, receptor for AGE; RT, reverse transcriptase; VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor.

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Author notes

The nucleotide sequence data reported will appear in DDBJ, EMBL and GenBank® Nucleotide Sequence Databases under the accession nos. AB036432 (full-length RAGE), AB061668 (endogenous secretory RAGE) and AB061669 (N-truncated RAGE).