2-O Heparan Sulfate Sulfation by Hs2st Is Required for Erk/Mapk Signalling Activation at the Mid-Gestational Mouse Telencephalic Midline

Wai Kit Chan, Katherine Howe, James M Clegg, Scott E Guimond, David Price, Jeremy E Turnbull, Thomas Pratt

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Heparan sulfate (HS) is a linear carbohydrate composed of polymerized uronate-glucosamine disaccharide units that decorates cell surface and secreted glycoproteins in the extracellular matrix. In mammals HS is subjected to differential sulfation by fifteen different heparan sulfotransferase (HST) enzymes of which Hs2st uniquely catalyzes the sulfation of the 2-O position of the uronate in HS. HS sulfation is postulated to be important for regulation of signaling pathways by facilitating the interaction of HS with signaling proteins including those of the Fibroblast Growth Factor (Fgf) family which signal through phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases Erk1/2. In the developing mouse telencephalon Fgf2 signaling regulates proliferation and neurogenesis. Loss of Hs2st function phenocopies the thinned cerebral cortex of mutant mice in which Fgf2 or Erk1/2 function are abrogated, suggesting the hypothesis that 2-O-sulfated HS structures play a specific role in Fgf2/Erk signaling pathway in this context in vivo. This study investigated the molecular role of 2-O sulfation in Fgf2/Erk signaling in the developing telencephalic midline midway through mouse embryogenesis at E12.5. We examined the expression of Hs2st, Fgf2, and Erk1/2 activity in wild-type and Hs2st-/- mice. We found that Hs2st is expressed at high levels at the midline correlating with high levels of Erk1/2 activation and Erk1/2 activation was drastically reduced in the Hs2st-/- mutant at the rostral telencephalic midline. We also found that 2-O sulfation is specifically required for the binding of Fgf2 protein to Fgfr1, its major cell-surface receptor at the rostral telencephalic midline. We conclude that 2-O sulfated HS structures generated by Hs2st are needed to form productive signaling complexes between HS, Fgf2 and Fgfr1 that activate Erk1/2 at the midline. Overall, our data suggest the interesting possibility that differential expression of Hs2st targets the rostral telencephalic midline for high levels of Erk signaling by increasing the sensitivity of cells to an Fgf2 signal that is rather more widespread.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0130147
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2015


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