FGF binding and FGF receptor activation by synthetic heparan-derived di- and trisaccharides

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Science  21 Apr 1995:
Vol. 268, Issue 5209, pp. 432-436
DOI: 10.1126/science.7536345


Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) require a polysaccharide cofactor, heparin or heparan sulfate (HS), for receptor binding and activation. To probe the molecular mechanism by which heparin or HS (heparin/HS) activates FGF, small nonsulfated oligosaccharides found within heparin/HS were assayed for activity. These synthetic and isomerically pure compounds can activate the FGF signaling pathway. The crystal structures of complexes between FGF and these heparin/HS oligosaccharides reveal several binding sites on FGF and constrain possible mechanisms by which heparin/HS can activate the FGF receptor. These studies establish a framework for the molecular design of compounds capable of modulating FGF activity.

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