Modulation of Interleukin-12 activity in the presence of heparin

by Jayanthi, Srinivas; Koppolu, Bhanu Prasanth; Nguyen, Khue G.; Smith, Sean G.; Felber, Barbara K.; Kumar, Thallapuranam Krishnaswamy Suresh; Zaharoff, David A.

Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), especially heparin and heparan sulfate (HS), modulate the functions of numerous cytokines. The aims of this multidisciplinary research were to characterize heparin binding to interleukin-12 (IL-12) and determine the mechanism(s) by which heparin influences IL-12 bioactivity. Heparin and HS were found to bind human IL-12 (hIL-12) with low micromolar affinity and increase hIL12 bioactivity by more than 6-fold. Conversely, other GAGs did not demonstrate significant binding, nor did their addition affect hIL-12 bioactivity. Biophysical studies demonstrated that heparin induced only minor conformational changes while size-exclusion chromatography and small angle X-ray scattering studies indicated that heparin induced dimerization of hIL-12. Heparin modestly protected hIL-12 from proteolytic degradation, however, this was not a likely mechanism for increased cytokine activity in vitro. Flow cytometry studies revealed that heparin increased the amount of hIL-12 bound to cell surfaces. Heparin also facilitated hIL-12 binding and signaling in cells in which both hIL-12 receptor subunits were functionally deleted. Results of this study demonstrate a new role for heparin in modulating the biological activity of IL-12.

Scientific Reports