Heparan sulfate: biological significance, tools for biochemical analysis and structural characterization
AuthorMalavaki, C. J.; Theocharis, A. D.; Lamari, F. N.; Kanakis, I.; Tsegenidis, T.; Tzanakakis, G. N.; Karamanos, N. K.
Heparan sulfate (HS) and heparin (HP) are functionally important glycosaminoglycans, which interact with a plethora of proteins and participate in several cellular events. They form specific proteoglycans, which are ubiquitously distributed at both extracellular and cellular levels. HS and HP chains vary in the sulfation pattern and the degree of C-5 epimerization of D-glucuronic acid to L-iduronic acid. These modifications are not uniformly distributed within the chain, providing functional oligomeric domains interacting specifically with various effective proteins. The utilization of specific lyases and chemical depolymerization are the commonest procedures used for structural analysis. Di- and oligosaccharide composition of HS can be accurately and sensitively determined by HPLC, CE and MS. Ultraviolet detection is satisfactory enough for unsaturated saccharides and pre-column derivatization with fluorophores and detection with laser-induced fluorescence results in even higher sensitivity. Solid-phase assays can also be used for monitoring interactions with other molecules. In this article the biological significance of HS and HP in health and disease as well as the portfolio of analytical methods that may help to a deeper understanding of their roles in various pathological processes is presented. Such methodologies are of crucial importance for disease diagnosis and the design of novel synthetic sugar-based drugs. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.