A glycan-based approach to cell characterization and isolation: Hematopoiesis as a paradigm

J Exp Med. 2022 Nov 7;219(11):e20212552. doi: 10.1084/jem.20212552. Epub 2022 Sep 6.


Cell surfaces display a wide array of molecules that confer identity. While flow cytometry and cluster of differentiation (CD) markers have revolutionized cell characterization and purification, functionally heterogeneous cellular subtypes remain unresolvable by the CD marker system alone. Using hematopoietic lineages as a paradigm, we leverage the extraordinary molecular diversity of heparan sulfate (HS) glycans to establish cellular "glycotypes" by utilizing a panel of anti-HS single-chain variable fragment antibodies (scFvs). Prospective sorting with anti-HS scFvs identifies functionally distinct glycotypes within heterogeneous pools of mouse and human hematopoietic progenitor cells and enables further stratification of immunophenotypically pure megakaryocyte-erythrocyte progenitors. This stratification correlates with expression of a heptad of HS-related genes that is reflective of the HS epitope recognized by specific anti-HS scFvs. While we show that HS glycotyping provides an orthogonal set of tools for resolution of hematopoietic lineages, we anticipate broad utility of this approach in defining and isolating novel, viable cell types across diverse tissues and species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Flow Cytometry
  • Hematopoiesis* / genetics
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Heparitin Sulfate
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Chain Antibodies*


  • Single-Chain Antibodies
  • Heparitin Sulfate