Primary structure and high expression of human agrin in basement membranes of adult lung and kidney

Alexander J A Groffen, Carin A F Buskens, Toin H. Van Kuppevelt, Jacques H. Veerkamp, Leo A H Monnens, Lambert P W J Van Den Heuvel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Agrin is a heparan sulfate proteoglycan involved in the development of the neuromuscular junction during embryogenesis. In addition to this well- characterized function, agrin may have additional functions in other tissues and during other stages in development. In this study we present the cDNA sequence of human agrin, and demonstrate a high agrin content in adult basement membranes. The N-terminal domain of human agrin is highly similar to that of chick agrin, suggesting a similar function in laminin binding. The presence of three SGXG sequences supports serine-linked glycosylation of the core protein, two sites being particularly favorable for heparan sulfate attachment. Comparison of levels of agrin mRNA in fetal and adult human tissues showed a remarkable upregulation in adult kidney and lung. In both tissues truncated agrin transcripts were detected, lacking the region that encodes the laminin-binding domain. The high transcription levels in lung and kidney corresponded with the accumulation of agrin in the alveolar and glomerular basement membranes, suggesting a filtration-associated function. These data provide new directions for investigating the role of agrin in its different physiological environments, including the basement membranes of the neuromuscular junction, kidney and lung.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-128
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 1998


  • Agrin
  • Alveolar basement membrane
  • Glomerular basement membrane
  • Heparan sulfate proteoglycan
  • Neuromuscular junction


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