2Wuxi Medical School, Jiangnan University, Wuxi 214122, PR China
3Key Laboratory of Carbohydrate Chemistry and Biotechnology, Ministry of Education, Jiangnan University, Wuxi 214122, PR China
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received October 21, 2014; Revision received January 23, 2015
The roles of sugar chains such as heparan sulfate (HS) in stem cell self-renewal and differentiation are poorly understood. HS is a sugar chain with linear sulfated polyanionic disaccharide repeating structures that interact with many proteins, including structural proteins in the extracellular matrix and growth factors and their receptors. Thus, unraveling the role of HS in stem cell self-renewal and differentiation could provide new insights and technical routes in clinical stem cell applications. Here, we purified rat bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BMMSCs) by density gradient centrifugation, analyzed mesenchymal stromal cell surface stemness marker expression by flow cytometry, and identified the sulfotransferases responsible for sulfation ester modification of HS. An osteogenic differentiation model was established by chemical induction reagents and confirmed via alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity detection and the expression of the osteogenic differentiation markers Runx2 and Ocn. The expression profiles of HS sulfotransferases in rat BMMSCs before and after osteogenic induction were detected by RT-PCR and Western blot. Cell spheroids were formed in both control and osteogenic culture systems when BMMSCs were grown to high confluence. We determined that this type of cell spheroid was a highly calcified nodule by histochemical staining. Among all the sulfotransferases examined, heparan sulfate 6-O-sulfotransferase 3 (HS6ST3) mRNA and protein were upregulated in these calcified cell spheroids. HS6ST3 knockdown BMMSCs were established with RNA interference, and they had significantly lower ALP activity and decreased expression of the osteogenic differentiation markers Runx2 and Ocn. These findings suggest that HS6ST3 is involved in BMMSC differentiation, and new glycotherapeutic-based technologies could be developed in the future.
KEY WORDS: BMMSCs, osteogenic differentiation, extracellular matrix, heparan sulfate, sulfotransferase