Endoglin is a component of the transforming growth factor-beta receptor system in human endothelial cells.
Endoglin, a dimeric membrane glycoprotein expressed at high levels on human vascular endothelial cells, shares regions of sequence identity with betaglycan, a major binding protein for transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) that co-exists with TGF-beta receptors I and II in a variety of cell lines but is low or absent in endothelial cells. We have examined whether endoglin also binds TGF-beta and demonstrate here that the major TGF-beta 1-binding protein co-existing with TGF-beta receptors I and II on human umbilical vein endothelial cells is endoglin, as determined by specific immunoprecipitation of endoglin affinity-labeled with 125I-TGF-beta. Furthermore, endoglin ectopically expressed in COS cells binds TGF-beta 1. Competition affinity-labeling experiments showed that endoglin binds TGF-beta 1 (KD approximately 50 pM) and TGF-beta 3 with high affinity but fails to bind TGF-beta 2. This difference in affinity of endoglin for the TGF-beta isoforms is in contrast to beta-glycan which recognizes all three isoforms. TGF-beta however is binding with high affinity to only a small fraction of the available endoglin molecules, suggesting that some rate-limiting event is required to sustain TGF-beta binding to endoglin.