Current Opinion in Cell Biology vol:21 issue:5 pages:662-9
Syndecans are membrane proteins controlling cell proliferation, differentiation, adhesion, and migration. Their extracellular domains bear versatile heparan sulfate chains that provide structural determinants for syndecans to function as coreceptors or activators for molecules like growth factors and constituents of the matrix. Syndecans also signal via their protein cores and their conserved transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains. The direct interactions and signaling cascades they support are becoming better characterized. These interactions are regulated by phosphorylation, induced clustering and shedding of the syndecan extracellular domain. Moreover evidence is emerging that syndecans concentrate in unconventional lipid domains and might govern novel vesicular trafficking pathways. Here we focus on recent findings that refine our understanding of the complex structure-function relationships of these cellular effectors.