The ability to characterize alterations in heparan sulfate (HS) structure during development or as a result of loss or mutation of one or more components of the HS biosynthetic pathway is essential for broad understanding of the effects these changes may have on cell/tissue function. The use of anti-HS antibodies provides an opportunity to study HS chain composition in situ, with a multitude of different antibodies having been generated that recognize subtle differences in HS patterning, with the number and positioning of sulfate groups influencing antibody binding affinity. Flow cytometry is a valuable technique to enable the rapid characterization of the changes in HS-specific antibody binding in situ, allowing multiple cell types to be directly compared. Additionally fluorescent-activated cell sorting (FACS) allows fractionation of cells based on their HS-epitope expression.
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This work is supported by a strategic award from the Medical Research Council (UK) and British Heart Foundation (G0902170), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/H046070/1), the Dutch Cancer Society (2008-4058) and the Netherlands Institute of Regenerative medicine (2.5).
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