Specific modification of heparan sulphate is required for normal cerebral cortical development

David McLaughlin, Fredrik Karlsson, Natasha Tian, Thomas Pratt, Simon L Bullock, Valerie A Wilson, David J Price, John O Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Proteoglycans are cell surface and extracellular matrix molecules to which long, unbranched glycosaminoglycan side chains are attached. Heparan sulphate, a type of glycosaminoglycan chain, has been proposed as a co-factor necessary for signalling by a range of growth factors. Here we provide evidence that loss of 2-O-sulphation in heparan sulphate leads to a significant reduction in cell proliferation in the developing cerebral cortex. The gene encoding heparan sulphate 2-sulphotransferase (Hs2st) is expressed in embryonic cortex and histological analysis of mice homozygous for a null mutation in Hs2st indicated a reduction in the thickness of the embryonic cerebral cortex. Using 5'-bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation assays we found a reduction of approximately 40% in labelling indices of cortical precursor cells at E12. Comparison of the fates of cortical cells born on E13 and E15 in Hs2st(-/-) mutant and wildtype littermate embryos revealed no differences in the pattern of cell migration. Our findings suggest a critical role for 2-O-sulphation of heparan sulphate proteoglycan (HSPG) in regulating cell proliferation during development of the cerebral cortex, perhaps through the modulation of cellular responses to growth factor signalling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1481-8
Number of pages8
JournalMechanisms of Development
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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