Heparan sulfate in chronic kidney diseases: Exploring the role of 3-O-sulfation

Laura Ferreras, Anna Moles, Gerhard R. Situmorang, Rana el Masri, Imogen L. Wilson, Katie Cooke, Emily Thompson, Marion Kusche-Gullberg, Romain R. Vivès, Neil S. Sheerin, Simi Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


One of the main feature of chronic kidney disease is the development of renal fibrosis. Heparan Sulfate (HS) is involved in disease development by modifying the function of growth factors and cytokines and creating chemokine gradients. In this context, we aimed to understand the function of HS sulfation in renal fibrosis. Using a mouse model of renal fibrosis, we found that total HS 2-O-sulfation was increased in damaged kidneys, whilst, tubular staining of HS 3-O-sulfation was decreased. The expression of HS modifying enzymes significantly correlated with the development of fibrosis with HS3ST1 demonstrating the strongest correlation. The pro-fibrotic factors TGFβ1 and TGFβ2/IL1β significantly downregulated HS3ST1 expression in both renal epithelial cells and renal fibroblasts. To determine the implication of HS3ST1 in growth factor binding and signalling, we generated an in vitro model of renal epithelial cells overexpressing HS3ST1 (HKC8-HS3ST1). Heparin Binding EGF like growth factor (HB-EGF) induced rapid, transient STAT3 phosphorylation in control HKC8 cells. In contrast, a prolonged response was demonstrated in HKC8-HS3ST1 cells. Finally, we showed that both HS 3-O-sulfation and HB-EGF tubular staining were decreased with the development of fibrosis. Taken together, these data suggest that HS 3-O-sulfation is modified in fibrosis and highlight HS3ST1 as an attractive biomarker of fibrosis progression with a potential role in HB-EGF signalling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-848
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


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