Glypican-3 (GPC-3) Structural Analysis and Cargo in Serum Small Extracellular Vesicles of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients

Montalbano Mauro, Perricone Ugo, Zachary Walton, Shirafkan Ali, Cristiana Rastellini, Luca Cicalese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Glypican-3 (GPC-3) is a heparin sulfate proteoglycan located extracellularly and anchored to the cell membrane of transformed hepatocytes. GPC-3 is not expressed in normal or cirrhotic liver tissue but is overexpressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Because of this, GPC-3 is one of the most important emerging immunotargets for treatment and as an early detection marker of HCC. To determine if GPC-3 domains associated with serum small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) could be used as an HCC diagnostic marker, we predicted in silico GPC-3 structural properties and tested for the presence of its full-length form and/or cleaved domains in serum sEVs isolated from patients with HCC. Structural analysis revealed that the Furin cleavage site of GPC-3 is exposed and readily accessible, suggesting the facilitation of GPC-3 cleavage events. Upon isolation of sEVs from both hepatocytes, culture media and serum of patients with HCC were studied for GPC-3 content. This data suggests that Furin-dependent GPC-3 cleaved domains could be a powerful tool for detection of initial stages of HCC and serve as a predictor for disease prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10922
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Glypican-3
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • serum marker
  • small extracellular vesicle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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