The 6-O-endosulfatase enzymes (Sulfs) edit the final sulfation pattern and function of heparan sulfate (HS) by removal of 6-O-sulfate groups from the chain. To date, two mammalian sulf genes have been identified that regulate many signalling pathways during embryonic development. In zebrafish a sulf1 ortholog and duplicate copies of the mammalian sulf2 gene, sulf2a and sulf2, have been identified, which contain conserved motifs characteristic of vertebrate sulf genes. Zebrafish sulf1 and sulf2a are broadly expressed in the central nervous system (CNS) and non-neuronal tissue including heart, somite boundaries, olfactory system, and otic vesicle, whereas sulf2 expression is almost entirely restricted to the CNS. The duplicate copies of sulf2 have distinct expression patterns, which together mirror that of mouse sulf2, suggesting duplication in the teleost lineage has been followed by subfunctionalisation, whereby both genes need to be preserved by selection to ensure the ancestral gene's expression profile and function is maintained.
© 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.