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Front Biosci. 2008 May 1;13:4309-38.

The heparanome and regulation of cell function: structures, functions and challenges.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZB United Kingdom.,


The cell-extracellular matrix interface is a crowded space whose structure is dependent on macromolecular assemblies that are dynamic in time, molecular composition and location. Signals travel from one cell to another (or to the same cell) by the regulated assembly/disassembly of molecular complexes. These signals can evoke relatively simple biological responses such cell proliferation and migration, but once integrated, they guide cell fate in complex biological phenomena such as embryonic development and organism homeostasis. Heparan sulfate proteoglycans are ubiquitous components of this space and important actors of these processes in all tissue-organized life forms. A key feature of heparan sulfate is its size, 40 nm to 160 nm, which enables it to integrate self-assembling macromolecular structures over substantial length scales. What is the structure of heparan sulfate? Why do we think heparan sulfate is so important? How do we try to explain its activity? What do we know about its interactions? These questions together with a final look to the future are the "menu" of this review.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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