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J Biol Chem. 2005 Oct 7;280(40):33749-55. Epub 2005 Aug 3.

Characterizing the non-reducing end structure of heparan sulfate.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139.


The reducing end of heparan sulfate has been known for a long time, but information on the non-reducing end has been lacking. Recent studies indicate that the non-reducing end of heparan sulfate might be the place where fibroblast growth factor signaling complex forms. The non-reducing end also changes with heparanase digestion and, thus, might serve as a marker for tumor pathology. Using high performance liquid chromatography-coupled mass spectrometry, we have identified and characterized the non-reducing end of bovine kidney heparan sulfate. We find that the non-reducing end region is highly sulfated and starts with a glucuronic acid (GlcA) residue. The likely sequence of the non-reducing end hexasaccharides is GlcA-GlcNS6S-UA+/-2S-GlcNS+/-6S-Ido2S-GlcNS+/-6S (where GlcNS is N-sulfate-D-glucosamine, S is sulfate, UA is uronic acid, and Ido is iduronic acid). Our data suggests that the non-reducing end of bovine kidney heparan sulfate is not trimmed by heparanase and is capable of supporting fibroblast growth factor signaling complex formation.

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