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J Biol Chem. 1987 Aug 25;262(24):11413-21.

Structure and antithrombin-binding properties of heparin isolated from the clams Anomalocardia brasiliana and Tivela mactroides.


Heparin with high anticoagulant activity was isolated from the two marine clam species Anomalocardia brasiliana and Tivela mactroides. A large portion of the polysaccharide chains of both preparations bound with high affinity to immobilized antithrombin. Titrations monitored by tryptophan fluorescence showed that clam polysaccharide chains with Mr approximately 22,500 contained up to three binding sites for antithrombin and that the binding constants for the interaction of these chains with antithrombin were higher than those reported for mammalian heparin of comparable size. Structural analysis of clam heparin fractions and subfractions of clam heparin with differing affinity for immobilized antithrombin revealed the presence of large amounts (up to 25-30% of the total disaccharide units) of the 3-O-sulfated saccharide sequences (-GlcNSO3)-GlcA-GlcNSO3(3-OSO3)- and (-GlcNSO3)-GlcA-GlcNSO3(3,6-di-OSO3)-, previously identified as unique markers for the antithrombin-binding region of heparin. The content of these saccharide sequences was found to increase with increasing affinity of the parent polysaccharide for antithrombin. Structural analysis of the clam heparins also demonstrated the occurrence of a novel saccharide sequence, tentatively identified as (-GlcNSO3)-IdA-GlcNSO3(3,6-di-OSO3)-, that has not previously been found in heparin or related polysaccharides. The contents of this latter sequence, at most 3-4% of the total disaccharide units, showed no correlation with the affinity for antithrombin.

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