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Neuroscience. 1999 Jan;88(2):655-64.

SCO-spondin is evolutionarily conserved in the central nervous system of the chordate phylum.

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  • 1Unité 384, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, and Laboratiore de Biochimie Médicale, Faculté de Médecine, Clermont-Ferrand, France.


Bovine SCO-spondin was shown to be a brain-secreted glycoprotein specifically expressed in the subcommissural organ, an ependymal differentiation located in the roof of the Sylvian aqueduct. Also, SCO-spondin makes part of Reissner's fiber, a phylogenetically and ontogenetically conserved structure present in the central canal of the spinal cord of chordates. This secretion is a large multidomain protein probably involved in axonal growth and/or guidance. As Reissner's fiber is highly conserved in the chordate central nervous system, we sought genes orthologous to the bovine SCO-spondin gene by Southern blot analysis in several members of the chordate phylum: urochordates, cephalochordates, cyclostomes, and lower and higher vertebrates, including humans. In addition, conserved glycoproteins present in the subcommissural organ and Reissner's fiber were revealed by immunohistochemistry using antibodies raised against bovine Reissner's fiber. Variation in the sites of Reissner's fiber production according to chordate subphylum, presence of this structure in the spinal cord, and conservation of the SCO-spondin gene are discussed in the context of chordate central nervous system development. These results indicate that SCO-spondin is an ancient ependymal secretion, making part of Reissner's fiber, that may have had an important function during the evolution of the central nervous system in chordates, including that of the spinal cord.

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