Regulation of cell motility, morphology, and growth by sulfated glycosaminoglycans

Robert J. Klebe, Laura V. Escobedo, Kevin L. Bentley, Laura K. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Due to the recent observation that heparin binds to several growth factors and cell adhesion molecules, the effect of heparin on biological processes governed by growth factors and cell adhesion molecules was investigated. Pharmacological doses of heparin were found to alter cell growth rate, cellular morphology, and cell motility. Concentrations (μg/ml) of heparin or dextran sulfate decreased cell growth rate, but not the final cell density attained in plateau phase. The effect of heparin on cell growth rate was most pronounced when cells were cultured in low concentrations of serum. A heparin‐induced decrease in cell growth rate could be reversed by addition of platelet‐derived growth factor (PDGF), a heparin‐binding growth factor. Heparin altered the morphology of all cell lines studied to various degrees. The effect of heparin on cell morphology was quantitated by measuring the heparin‐induced change in cell surface area. HT‐1080 and HeLa cells nearly doubled in surface area upon exposure to 10μg/ml heparin. Since several heparin‐binding cell adhesion proteins mediate both cell spreading and cell migration, the influence of heparin on cell migration was investigated with an improved version of the phagokinetic track technique. Low concentrations of heparin and dextran sulfate were found to increase the rate of cell migration in a dose‐dependent fashion. Since the quantitative effect of heparin on cell growth rate, morphology, and migration depends on the cell line studied, it is suggested that three separate phenomena may be involved. The results presented indicate a central role for sulfated glycosaminoglycans in the control of both cell growth and cell‐cell interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-281
Number of pages9
JournalCell Motility and the Cytoskeleton
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1986


  • cell adhesion
  • cell growth factors
  • cell migration
  • cell morphology
  • fibronectin
  • glycosaminoglycans
  • heparin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Cell Biology


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