The depolymerisation of porcine mucosal heparan sulfate under the action of heparin lyases and analysis by size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) is described. Heparan sulfate treated to enzymic bond scission producing a Δ4,5 double-bond and quantified by SEC with ultraviolet-visible (UV) spectroscopic detection (230nm) indicated that the majority of the biopolymer (>85%) was reduced to disaccharides (degree of polymerisation (DP)=2). However, analysis of the SEC eluant using refractive index (RI), which reflects the mass contribution of the oligosaccharides rather than the molar response of a UV chromophore, indicated that a considerable proportion of the digested HS, up to 43%, was present with DP >2. This was supported by a mass balance analysis. These results contradict the accepted literature where "complete digestion" is routinely reported. Herein we report on the composition and methodology utilised to ascertain the extent of depolymerization and disaccharide composition of this important biopolymer.
Keywords: Chromatographic analysis; Glucoasaminoglycan; Heparan sulfate; Heparin lyase.
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