Presence of heparan sulfate in the glomerular basement membrane

Y. S. Kanwar, M. G. Farquhar

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The glomerular basement membrane was subjected to digestion with specific enzymes to determine the chemical nature (sialoglycoproteins, collagenous peptides, or glycosaminoglycans) of the anionic sites previously demonstrated in the laminae rarae. Enzyme digestion was carried out both in situ and in vitro. Kidneys were perfused in situ with enzyme solutions followed by perfusion with fixative containing the cationic dye, ruthenium red, to detect the anionic sites. Glomerular basement membranes were isolated by detergent treatment of glomeruli and incubated with enzyme solutions, followed by incubation with cationized ferritin (pI 7.3-7.5) to label the anionic sites. Only highly purified enzymes free of proteolytic activity were used. The findings were the same both in situ and in vitro. The anionic sites were unaffected by treatment with neuraminidase, chondroitinase ABC, and testicular or leech hyaluronidase. However, they could no longer be demonstrated after digestion with crude heparinase, purified heparitinase, or Pronase or after nitrous acid oxidation. The results demonstrate that the sites contain heparin sulfate since they are removed by treatment with heparitinase and by nitrous acid oxidation - procedures specific for heparan sulfate; and that sialoglycoproteins or other glycosaminoglycans do not represent major components of these sites since the latter are not affected by digestion with neuraminidase and other glycosaminoglycan-specific enzymes. Identical findings were obtained on basement membranes in other locations (Bowman's capsule, tubule epithelium, and endothelium of peritubular capillaries). The presence of heparin sulfate in the glomerular basement membrane is discussed in relation to the charge-selective properties of the glomerular filter and in relation to its potential involvement in various types of glomerular injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1303-1307
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1979

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