Due to the biological properties of heparin and low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH), continuous advances in elucidation of their microheterogeneous structure and discovery of novel structural peculiarities are crucial. Effective strategies for monitoring manufacturing processes and assessment of more restrictive specifications, as imposed by the current regulatory agencies, need to be developed. Hereby, we apply an efficient heparanase-based strategy to assert the structure of two major isomeric octasaccharides of dalteparin and investigate the tetrasaccharides arising from antithrombin binding region (ATBR) of bovine mucosal heparin. Heparanase, especially when combined with other sample preparation methods (e.g., size exclusion, affinity chromatography, heparinase depolymerization), was shown to be a powerful tool providing relevant information about heparin structural peculiarities. The applied approach provided direct evidence that oligomers bearing glucuronic acid–glucosamine-3-O
-sulfate at their nonreducing end represent an important structural signature of dalteparin. When extended to ATBR-related tetramers of bovine heparin, the heparanase-based approach allowed for elucidation of the structure of minor sequences that have not been reported yet. The obtained results are of high importance in the view of the growing interest of regulatory agencies and manufacturers in the development of low-molecular-weight heparin generics as well as bovine heparin as alternative source.
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