Heparan sulfate abnormalities in exostosis growth plates

Bone. 2002 Jul;31(1):199-204. doi: 10.1016/s8756-3282(02)00796-2.


Hereditary multiple exostoses (HME), a condition associated with development and growth of bony exostoses at the ends of the long bones, is caused by germline mutations in the EXT genes. EXT1 and EXT2 function as glycosyltransferases that participate in the biosynthesis of heparan sulfate (HS) to modify proteoglycans. HS proteoglycans, synthesized by chondrocytes and secreted to the extracellular matrix of the growth plate, play critical roles in growth plate signaling and remodeling. As part of studies to delineate the mechanism(s) by which an exostosis develops, we have systematically evaluated four growth plates from two HME and two solitary exostoses. Mutational events were correlated with the presence/absence and distribution of HS and the normally abundant proteoglycan, perlecan (PLN). DNA from the HME exostoses demonstrated heterozygous germline EXT1 or EXT2 mutations, and DNA from one solitary exostosis demonstrated a somatic EXT1 mutation. No loss of heterozygosity was observed in any of these samples. The chondrocyte zones of four exostosis growth plates showed absence of HS, as well as diminished and abnormal distribution of PLN. These results indicate that, although multiple mutational events do not occur in the EXT1 or EXT2 genes, a complete loss of HS was found in the exostosis growth plates. This functional knockout of the exostosis chondrocytes' ability to synthesize HS chains further supports the observations of cytoskeletal abnormalities and chondrocyte disorganization associated with abnormal cell signaling.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Exostoses / genetics*
  • Exostoses / metabolism
  • Growth Plate / physiology*
  • Heparitin Sulfate / biosynthesis
  • Heparitin Sulfate / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases / biosynthesis
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases / genetics


  • Heparitin Sulfate
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases
  • exostosin-1
  • exostosin-2