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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Abnormal mast cells in mice deficient in a heparin-synthesizing enzyme.

Heparin is a sulphated polysaccharide, synthesized exclusively by connective-tissue-type mast cells and stored in the secretory granules in complex with histamine and various mast-cell proteases. Although heparin has long been used as an antithrombotic drug, endogenous heparin is not present in the blood, so it cannot have a physiological role in regulating blood coagulation. The biosynthesis of heparin involves a series of enzymatic reactions, including sulphation at various positions. The initial modification step, catalysed by the enzyme glucosaminyl N-deacetylase/N-sulphotransferase-2, NDST-2, is essential for the subsequent reactions. Here we report that mice carrying a targeted disruption of the gene encoding NDST-2 are unable to synthesize sulphated heparin. These NDST-2-deficient mice are viable and fertile but have fewer connective-tissue-type mast cells; these cells have an altered morphology and contain severely reduced amounts of histamine and mast-cell proteases. Our results indicate that one site of physiological action for heparin could be inside connective-tissue-type mast cells, where its absence results in severe defects in the secretory granules.[1]


  1. Abnormal mast cells in mice deficient in a heparin-synthesizing enzyme. Forsberg, E., Pejler, G., Ringvall, M., Lunderius, C., Tomasini-Johansson, B., Kusche-Gullberg, M., Eriksson, I., Ledin, J., Hellman, L., Kjellén, L. Nature (1999) [Pubmed]
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