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Histochem Cell Biol. 2006 Dec;126(6):713-22. Epub 2006 Jul 12.

Spatiotemporal distribution of heparan sulfate epitopes during murine cartilage growth plate development.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA.


Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) are abundant in the pericellular matrix of both developing and mature cartilage. Increasing evidence suggests the action of numerous chondroregulatory molecules depends on HSPGs. In addition to specific functions attributed to their core protein, the complexity of heparan sulfate (HS) synthesis provides extraordinary structural and functional heterogeneity. Understanding the interactions of chondroregulatory molecules with HSPGs and their subsequent outcomes has been limited by the absence of a detailed analysis of HS species in cartilage. In this study, we characterize the distribution and variety of HS species in developing cartilage of normal mice. Cryo-sections of femur and tibia from normal mouse embryos were evaluated using immunostaining techniques. A panel of unique phage display antibodies specific to particular HS species were employed and visualized with secondary antibodies conjugated to Alexa-fluor dyes. Confocal microscopy demonstrates that HS species are dynamic structures within developing growth plate cartilage and the perichondrium. GlcNS6S-IdoUA2S-GlcNS6S species are down regulated and localization of GlcNS6S-IdoUA-GlcNS6S species within the hypertrophic zone of the growth plate is lost during normal development. Regional differences in HS structures are present within developing growth plates, implying that interactions with and responses to HS-binding proteins also may display regional specialization.

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