Myonectin/erythroferrone (also known as CTRP15) is a secreted hormone with metabolic function and a role in stress erythropoiesis. Despite its importance in physiologic processes, biochemical characterization of the protein is lacking. Here, we show that multiple protein modifications are critical for myonectin secretion and multimerization. Abolishing N-linked glycosylation by tunicamycin, glucosamine supplementation, or glutamine substitutions of all four potential Asn glycosylation sites blocked myonectin secretion. Mass spectrometry confirmed that Asn-229 and Asn-281 were glycosylated, and substituting both Asn sites with Gln prevented myonectin secretion. Although Asn-319 is not identified as glycosylated, Gln substitution caused protein misfolding and retention in the endoplasmic reticulum. Of the four conserved cysteines, Cys-273 and Cys-278 were required for proper protein folding; Ala substitution of either site inhibited protein secretion. In contrast, Ala substitutions of Cys-142, Cys-194, or both markedly enhanced protein secretion, suggesting endoplasmic reticulum retention that facilitates myonectin oligomer assembly. Secreted myonectin consists of trimers, hexamers, and high-molecular weight (HMW) oligomers. The formation of higher-order structures via intermolecular disulfide bonds depended on Cys-142 and Cys-194; while the C142A mutant formed almost exclusively trimers, the C194A mutant was impaired in HMW oligomer formation. Most Pro residues within the short collagen domain of myonectin were also hydroxylated, a modification that stabilized the collagen triple helix. Inhibiting Pro hydroxylation or deleting the collagen domain markedly reduced the rate of protein secretion. Together, our results reveal key determinants that are important for myonectin folding, secretion, and multimeric assembly and provide a basis for future structure-function studies.
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