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R-spondins (RSPOs) amplify WNT signaling during development and regenerative responses. We previously demonstrated that RSPOs 2 and 3 potentiate WNT/β-catenin signaling in cells lacking leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein coupled receptors (LGRs) 4, 5 and 6 (Lebensohn and Rohatgi, 2018). We now show that heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) act as alternative co-receptors for RSPO3 using a combination of ligand mutagenesis and ligand engineering. Mutations in RSPO3 residues predicted to contact HSPGs impair its signaling capacity. Conversely, the HSPG-binding domains of RSPO3 can be entirely replaced with an antibody that recognizes heparan sulfate (HS) chains attached to multiple HSPGs without diminishing WNT-potentiating activity in cultured cells and intestinal organoids. A genome-wide screen for mediators of RSPO3 signaling in cells lacking LGRs 4, 5 and 6 failed to reveal other receptors. We conclude that HSPGs are RSPO co-receptors that potentiate WNT signaling in the presence and absence of LGRs.

Original publication

DOI

10.7554/elife.54469

Type

Journal article

Journal

eLife

Publication Date

20/05/2020

Volume

9

Addresses

Departments of Biochemistry and Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, United States.