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J Biol Chem. 1992 May 15;267(14):9965-71.

Polysialic acid is associated with sodium channels and the neural cell adhesion molecule N-CAM in adult rat brain.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Z├╝rich, Switzerland.


We have studied alpha 2,8-linked polysialic acid (polySia) and the neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) in the adult rat brain by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis. Both molecules were widely distributed but not ubiquitous. Various brain regions showed colocalization of polySia and N-CAM. Strong immunoreactivity for polySia was seen in regions which were negative for N-CAM, such as the main and accessory olfactory bulbs. Immunohistochemical evidence for the heterogeneity of polySia expression in different brain regions was confirmed by immunoblotting. We present evidence that N-CAM is not the only polySia bearing protein in adult rat brain. Specifically, immunoprecipitation using the polySia-specific monoclonal antibody mAb 735 precipitated not only N-CAM isoforms carrying polySia, but also the sodium channel alpha subunit. Immunoblotting using sodium channel alpha subunit antibody (SP20) revealed a smear from 250 kDa upwards. PolySia removal using an endoneuraminidase specific for alpha 2,8-linked polysialic acid of 8 or more residues long, reduced this smear to a single band at 250 kDa. Thus both N-CAM and sodium channels carry homopolymers of alpha 2,8-linked polysialic acid in adult rat brain.

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