C-Mannosylation is a unique type of glycosylation occuring at the first Trp (W) in the WXXW motif, which is found in the thrombospondin type 1 repeat (TSR) of proteins. However, the biological function of C-mannosylation is not fully understood. In this study, we investigated the effect of C-mannosylated TSR-derived peptides on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced signaling in macrophage-like RAW264.7 cells. The cells were stimulated with LPS in the presence or absence of chemically synthesized peptides with or without C-mannose (e.g., (C-Man)-Trp-Ser-Pro-Trp [C-Man-WSPW], C-Man-W, WSPW, etc.), then the effects of the peptides on cellular viability and signaling were examined. We found a cytotoxic effect in the cells treated with LPS and C-Man-WSPW, but not in the cells solely treated with LPS or C-Man-WSPW. We also found that production of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) was upregulated more in response to LPS plus C-Man-WSPW, than in response to LPS plus WSPW or LPS alone. Among the LPS-induced signaling pathways that induce production of TNF-α, the activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) was greatly enhanced by LPS and C-Man-WSPW, and the production of TNF-α was suppressed by an inhibitor for JNK. Together, these results demonstrate a novel function of the C-mannosylated TSR-derived peptide motif, to promote LPS-induced JNK signaling, and this leads to an enhancement of cytotoxicity via the upregulation of TNF-α production.
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