Interfering with UDP-GlcNAc Metabolism and Heparan Sulfate Expression Using a Sugar Analogue Reduces Angiogenesis
Heparan sulfate (HS), a long linear polysaccharide, is implicated in various steps of tumorigenesis, including angiogenesis. We successfully interfered with HS biosynthesis using a peracetylated 4-deoxy analogue of the HS constituent GlcNAc and studied the compound's metabolic fate and its effect on angiogenesis. The 4-deoxy analogue was activated intra-cellularly into UDP-4-deoxy-GlcNAc, and HS expression was inhibited up to,similar to 96% (IC50 = 16 mu M). HS chain size was reduced, without detectable incorporation of the 4-deoxy analogue, likely due to reduced levels of UDP-GlcNAc and/or inhibition of glycosyltransferase activity. Comprehensive gene expression analysis revealed reduced expression of genes regulated by HS binding growth factors such as FGF-2 and VEGF. Cellular binding and signaling of these angiogenic factors was inhibited. Microinjection in zebrafish embryos strongly reduced HS biosynthesis, and angiogenesis was inhibited in both zebrafish and chicken model systems. All of these data identify 4-deoxy-GlcNAc as a potent inhibitor of HS synthesis, which hampers pro-angiogenic signaling and neo-vessel formation.