Int. J. Dev. Biol. 43: 555 - 562 (1999)
© UPV/EHU Press

O-linked carbohydrates are required for FGF-2-mediated proliferation of mouse embryonic cells.

L Jirmanova, J Pacholikova, P Krejci, A Hampl and P Dvorak

Laboratory of Molecular Embryology, Mendel University Brno, Czech Republic.

ABSTRACT During development, fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) serve highly specific functions that are mediated through high-affinity transmembrane receptors and modulated by membrane-bound proteoglycans. Proteoglycans, in an embryonic environment called embryoglycans, contain numerous carbohydrate ectodomains, the structure of which undergoes rearrangement. Since they can be lost from the cell surface, they are sometimes found in extracellular space where they may also serve some regulatory function. Here we address the potential roles of three naturally occurring isoforms of Lewis X (LeX) in FGF-2-mediated proliferation of embryonic stem (ES) cells. We have found that the addition of sulfated LeX to ES cells at a concentration of 17 nM promotes FGF-2 mitogenic activity while a 10-fold higher concentration leads to a reduction of FGF-2-mediated proliferation. Notably, this dose-dependent modulation operated only for sulfated LeX. Other fucosylated motifs, basic LeX trisaccharide and sialylated LeX, also affected ES cell proliferation but the mechanism cannot be clearly correlated with the presence or absence of FGF-2. The suppression of biosynthesis of O-linked carbohydrates including LeX reduced basal proliferation of ES cells and interfered with the mitogenic effect of FGF-2. However, in inhibitor-treated cells, the stimulatory activity of FGF-2 can be reestablished to its original level by exogenous LeX oligosaccharides. Our results show that (A) O-linked LeX oligosaccharides can regulate mitogenic activity of FGF-2 in embryonic cells, (B) and this ability varies with subtle modifications in their structure. Importantly, our data represent the first insight into the mechanism of how growth factor activities might be modulated by shedded embryoglycan ectodomains.