, Volume 94, Issue 2, pp 307-321
Date: 06 Mar 2012

Microbial heparin/heparan sulphate lyases: potential and applications

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Abstract

Heparin/heparan sulphate glycosaminoglycans (HSGAGs) are composed of linear chains of 20–100 disaccharide units of N-acetylated d-glucosamine α (1–4) linked to glucuronic acid. HSGAGs are widely distributed on the cell surface and extracellular cell matrix of virtually every mammalian cell type and play critical role in regulating numerous functions of blood vessel wall, blood coagulation, inflammation response and cell differentiation. These glycosaminoglycans present in this extracellular environment very significantly influence the blood coagulation system and cardiovascular functions. Recent studies have investigated the mechanism by which cancer causes thrombosis and emphasizes the importance of the coagulation system in angiogenesis and tumour metastasis. Heparan sulphate/heparin lyases or heparinases are a class of enzymes that are capable of specifically cleaving the (1–4) glycosidic linkages in heparin and heparan sulphate to generate biologically active oligosaccharides with substantially significant and distinct clinical, pharmaceutical and prophylactic/therapeutic applications. Bioavailability and pharmacokinetic behaviour and characteristics of these oligosaccharides vary significantly depending on the origin/nature of the substrate (heparin or heparan sulphate-like glycosaminoglycans), the source of enzyme and method of preparation. Various microorganisms are reported/patented to produce these enzymes with different properties. Heparinases are commercially used for the depolymerization of unfractionated heparin to produce low molecular weight heparins (LMWHs), an effective anticoagulant. Individual LMWHs are chemically different and unique and thus cannot be interchanged therapeutically. Heparinases and LMWHs are reported to control angiogenesis and metastasis also. This review catalogues the degradation of HSGAGs by microbial heparin/heparan sulphate lyases and their potential either specific to the enzymes or with the dual role for generation of oligosaccharides for a new generation of compounds, as shown by various laboratory or clinical studies.