Elimination of heparan sulfate by heparitinases induces abnormal mesodermal and neural formation in Xenopus embryos

Shigeki Furuya, Miho Sera, Rie Tohno‐oka, Kazuyuki Sugahara, Koichiro Shiokawa, Yoshio Hirabayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The expression of heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycan (HS‐GAG) was examined in Xenopus embryos during the developmental stages. Chemical analysis showed the existence of HS‐GAG in the 35S‐labeled embryos. By western blot analysis using a specific anti‐HS monoclonal antibody, HS‐GAG related epitope was found after the neurulation on two protein bands, whose molecular weights were approximately 90 kDa and 100 kDa, respectively. Immunohistochemistry revealed that HS‐GAG occurred exclusively in the animal hemisphere in early gastrulae, and then appeared predominantly on the sheath of the neural tube, the notochord and epithelium. To address whether HS‐GAG chains contribute to Xenopus embryonic development, we eliminated the embryonic HS‐GAG by injecting purified Flavobacterium heparitinases (HSase) into their blastocoels. Most of the injected embryos were aberrant in mesodermal and neural formation, and became acephalic. Histological examination showed that these embryos were completely devoid of the central nervous system and the mesodermal tissues. Neither heat‐inactivated heparitinase nor chondroitinase showed such abnormality. The HS‐GAG‐eliminated embryos showed decreased expression of both muscular and neural‐specific markers. These results suggest that HS‐GAG plays an indispensable role in establishing the fundamental body plan during early Xenopus development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-346
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopment, Growth & Differentiation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1995
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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