Efficient Synthesis of Heparinoid Bioconjugates for Tailoring FGF2 Activity at the Stem Cell-Matrix Interface

Heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans (HS GAGs) attached to proteoglycans harbor high affinity binding sites for various growth factors (GFs) and direct their organization and activity across the cell-matrix interface. Here, we describe a mild and efficient method for generating HS-protein conjugates. The two-step process utilizes a “copper-free” click coupling between differentially sulfated heparinoids primed at their reducing end with an azide handle and a bovine serum albumin protein modified with complementary cyclooctyne functionality. When adsorbed on tissue culture substrates, the glycoconjugates served as extracellular matrix proteoglycan models with the ability to sequester FGF2 and influence mesenchymal stem cell proliferation based on the structure of their HS GAG component.