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J Cell Biochem. 2006 Apr 15;97(6):1241-58.

Structural specificity in a FGF7-affinity purified heparin octasaccharide required for formation of a complex with FGF7 and FGFR2IIIb.

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Center for Cancer Biology and Nutrition, Institute of Biosciences and Technology, The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, Houston, Texas 77030-3303, USA.


Variations in sulfation of heparan sulfate (HS) affect interaction with FGF, FGFR, and FGF-HS-FGFR signaling complexes. Whether structurally distinct HS motifs are at play is unclear. Here we used stabilized recombinant FGF7 as a bioaffinity matrix to purify size-defined heparin oligosaccharides. We show that only 0.2%-4% of 6 to 14 unit oligosaccharides, respectively, have high affinity for FGF7 based on resistance to salt above 0.6M NaCl. The high affinity fractions exhibit highest specific activity for interaction with FGFR2IIIb and formation of complexes of FGF7-HS-FGFR2IIIb. The majority fractions with moderate (0.30-0.6M NaCl), low (0.14-0.30M NaCl) or no affinity at 0.14M NaCl for FGF7 supported no complex formation. The high affinity octasaccharide mixture exhibited predominantly 7- and 8-sulfated components (7,8-S-OctaF7) and formed FGF7-HS-FGFR2IIIb complexes with highest specific activity. Deduced disaccharide analysis indicated that 7,8-S-OctaF7 comprised of DeltaHexA2SGlcN6S in a 2:1 ratio to a trisulfated and a variable unsulfated or monosulfated disaccharide. The inactive octasaccharides with moderate affinity for FGF7 were much more heterogenous and highly sulfated with major components containing 11 or 12 sulfates comprised of predominantly trisulfated disaccharides. This suggests that a rare undersulfated motif in which sulfate groups are specifically distributed has highest affinity for FGF7. The same motif also exhibits structural requirements for high affinity binding to dimers of FGFR2IIIb prior to binding FGF7 to form FGF7-HS-FGFR2IIIb complexes. In contrast, the majority of more highly sulfated HS motifs likely play FGFR-independent roles in stability and control of access of FGF7 to FGFR2IIIb in the tissue matrix.

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