TSG-6 is a multifunctional protein that is up-regulated in many pathological and physiological contexts, where it plays important roles in inflammation and tissue remodelling. For example, it is a potent inhibitor of neutrophil migration and can modulate the protease network through inhibition of plasmin. TSG-6 binds a wide range of GAGs (glycosaminoglycans) [i.e. HA (hyaluronan), chondroitin 4-sulphate, dermatan sulphate, heparin and heparan sulphate] as well as a variety of protein ligands, where these interactions can influence the activities of TSG-6. For example, through its association with HA, TSG-6 can mediate HA cross-linking via several different mechanisms, some of which promote leucocyte adhesion. Binding to heparin, however, enhances the ability of TSG-6 to potentiate the anti-plasmin activity of inter-α-inhibitor, which binds non-covalently to TSG-6 via its bikunin chain. Furthermore, although HA and heparin interact with distinct sites on the Link module, the binding of heparin can inhibit subsequent interaction with HA. In addition, the interactions of TSG-6 with HA, heparin and at least some of its protein ligands are sensitive to pH. Therefore it seems that in different tissue micro-environments (characterized, for example, by pH and GAG content), TSG-6 could be partitioned into functional pools with distinct activities.

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