The rat TGF-beta type III receptor cDNA has been cloned by overexpression in COS cells. The encoded receptor is an 853 amino acid protein with a large N-terminal extracellular domain containing at least one site for glycosaminoglycan addition, a single hydrophobic transmembrane domain, and a 41 amino acid cytoplasmic tail with no obvious signaling motif. Introduction of the cDNA into COS cells and L6 myoblasts induces expression of a heterogenously glycosylated 280-330 kd protein characteristic of the type III receptor that binds TGF-beta 1 specifically. In L6 myoblasts lacking the endogenous type III receptor, expression of the recombinant receptor leads to an increase in the amount of ligand bound and cross-linked to surface type II TGF-beta receptors. This indicates that the type III receptor may regulate the ligand-binding ability or surface expression of the type II receptor.
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