The matricellular SPARC family member hevin (SPARC-like 1/SPARCL-1/SC1/Mast9) contributes to neural development and alters tumor progression in a range of mammalian models. The distribution of hevin in mouse tissues was reexamined with a novel monoclonal antibody that discriminates between hevin and its ortholog SPARC. We now report proteolysis of hevin in many tissues, with the most extensive processing in the brain. We demonstrate a cleavage site within the hevin sequence for the neural tissue proteinase ADAMTS4. Digestion of hevin by ADAMTS4 in vitro produced fragments similar to those present in brain lysates. Monoclonal antibodies revealed a SPARC-like fragment generated from hevin that was co-localized with ADAMTS4 in vivo. We show that proteolysis of hevin by ADAMTS4 in the mouse cerebellum is important for the normal development of this tissue. In conclusion, we have identified the fragmentation of hevin by ADAMTS4 in the mouse brain and propose that this specific proteolysis is integral to cell morphology and extracellular matrix deposition in the developing brain.
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