Biophysical characterisation of the hepatocyte growth factor - glycosaminoglycan interaction
Johansson, Conny M.
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Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) such as heparin, heparan sulfate (HS), chondroitin sulfate (CS) and dermatan sulfate (DS) are sulfated polysaccharides that exist on animal cell surfaces and in the extracellular matrix. GAGs are important in providing structural and hydrating support and interaction points for proteins of varied functions, for example growth factors and homeostasis regulatory proteins. Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF) is a protein growth factor that regulates cell growth, survival, proliferation, chemotaxis, cell morphology, tissue regeneration and angiogenesis. It is involved in embryogenesis, wound healing and many cancers. In this project, the interactions between the GAG binding N and NK -domains of HGF (HGF-N and HGF-NK) and different types of GAGs are characterised with biophysical techniques. GAG oligosaccharides were produced by enzymatic digestion and purified by preparative gel filtration and ion exchange chromatography. Different constructs of HGF were cloned from human cDNA, expressed with the Pichia pastoris expression system, purified to homogeneity and characterised by mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). The dissociation constants between the different HGF protein constructs, different heparin oligosaccharide lengths and the drug Fondaparinux were shown by isothermal calorimetry (ITC) to vary between 0.35 and 9.26 μM. It was found that the entropy contribution was favourable for short oligosaccharides and disfavourable for long oligosaccharides and that the enthalpy contribution was less important for shorter oligosaccharides than for longer oligosaccharides. NMR titrations of CS, DS, heparin, Fondaparinux and sulfated maltose into 15N labelled protein samples showed that all ligands bind to the same HGF-N binding site, but different binding modes exists. The binding site consists of three regions, with the α2-helix and L2 loops playing key roles (residues 70-84). All GAGs also utilise the N-terminal residues 32-42, whereas long heparin oligosaccharides can also utilise a binding region formed mainly by the β2-strand (residues 59-64, 66, 95, 96). The GAG binding mode changes if HGF-N has an N-terminal truncation and the β2- strand residues become more important, emphasising the role of the N-terminal residues in the HGF-GAG interaction. Spin-labelled fully sulfated heparin-derived hexasaccharide was used to determine its binding direction on the HGF-N surface. Affinity chromatography confirmed the importance of the N-terminal residues and that HGF binds to all investigated GAGs. The oligomeric states of HGF-N and HGF-NK were investigated by AUC, gel filtration and ITC. The results suggest that the proteins oligomerise like beads on a string for long oligosaccharides. An HGF-N self-associating dimer with a slow on/off rate was characterised by affinity chromatography, gel filtration and NMR.