Heparan Sulfate and Development : A Study of NDST Deficient Mice and Embryonic Stem Cells

Sammanfattning: Heparan sulfate (HS) proteoglycans consist of sulfated HS chains covalently bound to core proteins. They are ubiquitously expressed, on the cell surface and in the extracellular matrix, throughout the body. During biosynthesis the HS chain is modified to generate a highly variable pattern of sulfated residues, able to interact with a wide variety of ligands, such as growth factors, morphogens and extracellular matrix molecules. The presence of HS proteoglycans is crucial during various developmental processes as they are involved in generation of morphogen gradients and influence the function of several growth factor pathways essential for tissue assembly and differentiation.In this thesis the phenotypes of two mouse strains, deficient in different isoforms of the HS biosynthetic enzyme N-deacetylase/N-sulfotransferase (NDST) have been analyzed. In addition, NDST deficient embryonic stem (ES) cells have been analyzed with regard to HS structure and differentiation capacity. Mice deficient in NDST1 die peri-natally. The embryos display an overall low-sulfated HS and several developmental defects, with a lung phenotype as the predominant cause of death. Mice deficient in NDST2 lack sulfated heparin in connective tissue type mast cells while HS structure is unaltered. These results indicate that NDST1 is the isoform mainly responsible for HS biosynthesis during development. However, NDST1/2 deficient embryos do not survive beyond E5.5 and have a greatly disturbed morphology, suggesting that NDST2 has an essential role during early embryonic development. HS synthesized by NDST1/2 deficient ES cells had a total lack of N-sulfate groups while, interestingly, about half of the 6-O-sulfate groups remained. This result was unexpected since 6-O-sulfotransferases have been thought to be strictly dependent on N-sulfate groups for substrate recognition. Further characterization of the NDST1/2 deficient ES cells during in vitro differentiation demonstrated that the expression pattern of markers for all three germ layers was disturbed. In addition, it was demonstrated that NDST1 is not needed for mast cell development, that lack of NDST2 results in abnormal mast cells and that no mast cells is formed from NDST1/2 deficient ES cells.