The chondroitin sulfate attachment site of appican is formed by splicing out exon 15 of the amyloid precursor gene.
Appicans are secreted and cell-associated chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans containing Alzheimer amyloid precursor (APP) as their core protein. Appicans are found in brain tissue, and in cell cultures their expression depends on both cell type and growth conditions. Here we report that the core protein of appicans derives from an APP mRNA lacking exon 15. Splicing out of this exon creates a new consensus sequence for the attachment of a chondroitin sulfate chain in the resulting APP product. Transfection of C6 glioma or 293 kidney fibroblast cells with APP cDNAs containing exon 15 produced no appican, while transfection with an APP cDNA lacking this exon induced high levels of appican production. Polymerase chain reactions indicated that appican-producing cells contained an APP mRNA species without exon 15, whereas cells without this mRNA produced no appican. Site-directed mutagenesis combined with immunoreactivity experiments showed that the chondroitin sulfate chain is attached to a serine residue 16 amino acids upstream of the amino terminus of the A beta sequence of APP. The attachment of a glycosaminoglycan chain close to the A beta sequence of APP may affect the proteolytic processing of APP and production of A beta. The proteoglycan nature of APP suggests that addition of the chondroitin sulfate glycosaminoglycan is important for the implementation of the biological function of these proteins.