Syndecan-1 is a transmembrane heparan sulfate-bearing proteoglycan known to regulate multiple biological functions at the cell surface and within the extracellular matrix. Its functional activity can be modulated by heparanase, an enzyme that cleaves heparan sulfate chains and whose expression has been associated with an aggressive phenotype in many cancers. In addition to remodeling syndecan-1 by cleaving its heparan sulfate chains, heparanase influences syndecan-1 location by upregulating expression of enzymes that accelerate its shedding from the cell surface. In the present study we discovered that heparanase also alters the level of nuclear syndecan-1. Upon upregulation of heparanase expression or following addition of recombinant heparanase to myeloma cells, the nuclear localization of syndecan-1 drops dramatically as revealed by confocal microscopy, western blotting and quantification by ELISA. This effect requires enzymatically active heparanase because cells expressing high levels of mutated, enzymatically inactive heparanase, failed to diminish syndecan-1 levels in the nucleus. Although heparan sulfate function within the nucleus is not well understood, there is emerging evidence that it may act to repress transcriptional activity. The resulting changes in gene expression facilitated by the loss of nuclear syndecan-1 could explain how heparanase enhances expression of MMP-9, VEGF, tissue factor and perhaps other effectors that condition the tumor microenvironment to promote an aggressive cancer phenotype. © 2009 Chen et al.