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The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Charles P. Emerson, Jr.

Sulf enzymes: novel regulators of extracellular signaling in development and regeneration

Charles P. Emerson, Jr.
Boston Biomedical Research Institute, Watertown, MA, USA

Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) have well-known functions in a diversity of developmental and cell growth signaling pathways, including Wnt, FGF, EGF and VEGF. HSPG signaling functions are mediated through specific binding interactions between heparan sulfate (HS) chains associated with HSPG proteoglycan core proteins and specific ligands and receptors, to control the formation of ligand-receptor complexes on the cell surface. HS binding to ligands and receptors for these signaling functions in many cases is mediated by specific sulfate groups on HS chains. Our lab has identified a novel family of 6-0 heparan endosulfatases, Sulf1 and Sulf2, which function as extracellular regulators of HSPG-mediated signaling. Sulf enzymes are differentially expressed on the cell surfaces of populations of embryonic and adult progenitor stem cells and function to modulate their responses to specific signals. Biochemical, cell biological and genetic studies of Sulf enzyme function in the control of cell growth, mesoderm induction, tissue regeneration, and angiogenesis will be discussed.

Host: Marion Kusche-Gullberg, Department of Biomedicine

Dr. Charles Emerson, Director of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, is a leading scientist in the area of signaling and transcriptional mechanisms controlling skeletal myogenesis, muscle regeneration, angiogenesis and tumorigenesis. In his research work, molecular, transgenic and genetic approaches are being used in mouse and chick embryos to characterize transcription enhancers and signaling regulators that control the myogenic regulatory genes, Myf5 and MyoD, for specification of muscle progenitor lineages. He and his team were the first to isolate several regulatory genes, including a new family of heparan sulfate extracellular sulfatase enzymes that function as regulators of Hedgehog, FGF and Wnt signaling in muscle and neural stem cells and as tumor suppressor genes in humans.