Heparan sulfate (HS) proteoglycans (PGs) are composed of HS polysaccharide chains attached to a core protein. The HS chains interact with growth factors and present them to their high affinity signaling receptors. The interactions influence cell survival, proliferation, migration, and differentiation. HS chains also store proteins and protect bound proteins from proteolytic degradation. Functionally important processes during development and homeostasis depend on the fine structure of HS chains, that provide binding sites for proteins. In addition, there are clearly strong relationships between HS and cancer. HS contributes to conditions for tumor growth and progression in the tumor microenvironment.
We study the molecular mechanisms controlling the formation of cell specific HS structures by which HS influences cell-matrix and HS-growth factor interaction interactions. We use cellular models and, biochemical, molecular and immunohistochemical methods.