Functions of Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycans in Development: Insights From Drosophila Models

H. Nakato, J. P. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) are a class of carbohydrate-modified proteins involved in key biological processes, including growth factor signaling, cell adhesion, and enzymatic catalysis. HSPGs serve as coreceptors for a number of ligand molecules to regulate their signaling and distribution. These HS-dependent factors include fibroblast growth factors, bone morphogenetic proteins, Wnt-related factors, hedgehog, and cytokines. Several classes of HSPGs are evolutionarily conserved from humans to the genetically tractable model organism Drosophila. Sophisticated molecular genetic tools available in Drosophila provide for a powerful system to address unanswered questions regarding in vivo functions of HSPGs. These studies have highlighted the functions of HSPGs in the regulation of significant developmental events, such as morphogen gradient formation, nervous system formation, and the stem cell niche. Drosophila genetics has also established HSPGs as key factors in feedback controls that ensure robustness in developmental systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Review of Cell and Molecular Biology
StateAccepted/In press - 2016


  • Drosophila
  • Heparan sulfate proteoglycan
  • Morphogen
  • Stem cell niche

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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