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J Histochem Cytochem. 1998 Jan;46(1):3-10.

SPARC is expressed by ganglion cells and astrocytes in bovine retina.

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  • 1Department of Biological Structure, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-7420, USA.


SPARC (secreted protein, acidic and rich in cysteine)/osteonectin is a matricellular, counteradhesive glycoprotein that disrupts cell-matrix interactions, interacts with growth factors and components of extracellular matrix, and modulates the cell cycle, but appears to subserve only minor structural roles. SPARC is expressed in a variety of tissues during embryogenesis and remodeling and is believed to regulate vascular morphogenesis and cellular differentiation. Although usually limited in normal adult tissues, SPARC is expressed at significant levels in the adult central nervous system. Using a monoclonal antibody against bovine bone osteonectin, we have determined the localization of SPARC in newborn (3-day-old) and adult (4-8-year-old) normal bovine retinas. SPARC was present in the soma of ganglion cells and strong reactivity was found in ganglion cell axons. Muller cells displayed no immunoreactivity, but SPARC was present in retinal astrocytes that were identified by the astrocyte marker glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Newborn calf retina showed a staining pattern similar to that of adult retina but exhibited significantly reduced levels of SPARC. Minimal levels of SPARC protein were also detected in some capillaries of the inner retina of both newborn and adult animals, whereas large vessels were negative. The presence of SPARC in the retina was confirmed by Western blotting of retinal extracts. These data indicate that SPARC originating from bot h neurons and glia of the inner retina may be an important modulator of retinal angiogenesis. The increased expression of SPARC in adult relative to newborn retinal tissue also indicates that SPARC has an ongoing role in the maintenance of retinal functions.

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