Sulfation patterns determine cellular internalization of heparin-like polysaccharides.

Raman K, Mencio C, Desai UR, Kuberan B. (2013) Sulfation patterns determine cellular internalization of heparin-like polysaccharides. Mol Pharm. 10(4):1442-9. PMID: 23398560; PMCID: PMC3685167


Heparin is a highly sulfated polysaccharide that serves biologically relevant roles as an anticoagulant and anticancer agent. While it is well-known that modification of heparin’s sulfation pattern can drastically influence its ability to bind growth factors and other extracellular molecules, very little is known about the cellular uptake of heparin and the role sulfation patterns serve in affecting its internalization. In this study, we chemically synthesized several fluorescently labeled heparins consisting of a variety of sulfation patterns. These polysaccharides were thoroughly characterized using anion exchange chromatography and size exclusion chromatography. Subsequently, we utilized flow cytometry and confocal imaging to show that sulfation patterns differentially affect the amount of heparin uptake in multiple cell types. This study provides the first comprehensive analysis of the effect of sulfation pattern on the cellular internalization of heparin or heparan sulfate like polysaccharides. The results of this study expand current knowledge regarding heparin internalization and provide insights into developing more effective heparin-based drug conjugates for applications in intracellular drug delivery.

Link to journal: