The selectins are calcium-dependent C-type lectins that bind certain sialylated, fucosylated, sulfated glycoprotein ligands. L-selectin also recognizes endothelial proteoglycans in a calcium-dependent manner, via heparan sulfate (HS) glycosaminoglycan chains enriched in unsubstituted glucosamine units. We now show that these HS chains can also bind P-selectin, but not E-selectin. However, while L-selectin binding requires micromolar levels of free calcium, P-selectin recognition is largely divalent cation-independent. Despite this, HS chains bound to P-selectin are eluted by ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA), but only at high concentrations. Porcine intestinal mucosal (mast cell-derived) heparin (PIM-heparin) shows similar properties, with no binding to E-selectin, calcium-dependent binding of a subfraction to L-selectin and to P-selectin, and calcium-independent binding of a larger fraction to P-selectin, the latter being disrupted by high EDTA concentrations. Analysis of defined heparin fragment pools shows a size dependence for interaction, with tetradecasaccharides showing easily detectable binding to L- and P-selectin affinity columns. L-selectin binding fragments include more heavily sulfated and epimerized regions and, as with the endothelial HS chains, they are enriched in free amino groups. The P-selectin binding component includes this fraction as well as some less highly modified regions. Thus, endothelium-derived HS chains and mast cell-derived heparins could play a role in modulating the biology of selectins in vivo. Notably, P- and L-selectin binding to sialyl-Lewisx and to HL-60 cells (which are known to carry the native ligand PSGL-1) is inhibited by unfractionated pharmaceutical heparin preparations at concentrations 12-50-fold lower than those recommended for effective anticoagulation in vivo. In contrast, two low molecular weight heparins currently considered as clinical replacements for unfractionated heparin are much poorer inhibitors. Thus, patients undergoing heparin therapy for other reasons may be experiencing clinically significant inhibition of L- and P-selectin function, and the current switchover to low-molecular weight heparins may come at some loss of this effect. Low-dose unfractionated heparin should be investigated as a treatment option for acute and chronic diseases in which P- and L-selectin play pathological roles.
A Koenig, K Norgard-Sumnicht, R Linhardt, A Varki