Ectodomain shedding (shedding) is a post-translational modification, which liberates the extracellular domain of membrane proteins through juxtamembrane processing executed mainly by the ADAM (a disintegrin and metalloprotease) family of metalloproteases. Because shedding alters characteristics of cells in a rapid and irreversible manner, it should be strictly regulated. However, the molecular mechanisms determining membrane protein susceptibility to shedding (shedding susceptibility) are largely unknown. Here we report that alternative splicing can give rise to both shedding-susceptible and shedding-resistant CADM1 (cell adhesion molecule 1) variant proteins. We further show that O-glycans adjacent to the shedding cleavage site interfere with CADM1 shedding, and the only 33-bp alternative exon confers shedding susceptibility to CADM1 by inserting five non-glycosylatable amino acids between interfering O-glycans and the shedding cleavage site. These results demonstrate that shedding susceptibility of membrane protein can be determined at two different levels of its biosynthesis pathway, alternative splicing and O-glycosylation.
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