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Pathol Res Pract. 2002;198(10):701-7.

Heparan sulphate proteoglycan in scleromyxedema promotes FGF-2 activity.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Madison, Wisconsin, USA.


The cause of progressive dermal sclerosis, proliferation of fibroblasts, and collagen deposition in scleromyxedema is unknown. We analyzed the heparan sulphate proteoglycans (HSPG) in cutaneous nodules from a patient with scleromyxedema in order to ascertain their role in the binding of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) and promoting signaling complex assembly. Total heparan sulphate (HS) was detected with a monoclonal antibody to HSPG on paraffin sections. Binding of FGF to HS was assessed using FGF-2 followed by anti-FGF-2 antibody. The formation of HS-mediated signaling complex was studied using soluble FR1-AP, which contains the extracellular domain of FGF receptor-1 linked to alkaline phosphatase (AP) and monoclonal anti-AP-antibody. Anti FGF-2 and anti-AP antibodies were visualized using the DAKO Envision Plus system. The dermal nodule of scleromyxedema contained ample HS and these bound FGF-2 and FR1-AP. Specificity was confirmed by prior incubation with heparitinase (no staining) and omission of FGF-2 (no staining). Increased amounts of HSPG were present in the dermal nodules of scleromyxedema compared to adjacent normal dermis and these bound FGF-2, immobilized the soluble receptor protein FGFR-1 and, therefore, formed a ternary complex composed of HSPG, FGF-2 and FGFR-1 in vitro. Since this complex resembles the signaling complex formed on live cells, HSPG in the nodules of scleromyxedema are in a configuration that promotes FGF activity.

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