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J Cell Sci. 2006 Aug 15;119(Pt 16):3456-66.

Competition and cooperation between tenascin-R, lecticans and contactin 1 regulate neurite growth and morphology.

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  • 1Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine, R.-Rössle-Str.10, 13092 Berlin-Buch, Germany.


The extracellular matrix molecule tenascin-R (TN-R) and the proteoglycans of the lectican family show an overlapping distribution in the developing brain, have been implicated in similar cellular processes and form a complex network of interactions. Previously, we have demonstrated that TN-R induces microprocesses along neurites and enlarged growth cones of tectal cells by interacting with the cell adhesion molecule contactin 1. Here, we describe competition and cooperation between TN-R, lecticans and contactin 1, and their functional consequences for tectal cells. Aggrecan, brevican and neurocan inhibit the effects of TN-R on microprocess formation and growth cone size. This blocking effect is due to competition of lecticans with binding of TN-R to its neuronal receptor contactin 1, as shown by a sandwich-binding assay. Interaction of aggrecan with TN-R fibronectin type III domains 4-A is necessary for its inhibitory effect on both microprocess formation and TN-R binding to contactin 1. However, the chondroitin sulfate chains are not involved. Time-lapse video microscopy showed that aggrecan has no acute effect on motility and morphology of microprocesses and growth cones but induces long-term neurite retraction after pre-treatment with TN-R. In contrast to the competition described above, TN-R cooperates with brevican and neurocan to induce attachment of tectal cells and neurite outgrowth, probably by forming a bridge between the lectican substrate and contactin 1 as the neuronal receptor. Our findings suggest that a complex network of protein-protein interactions within the brain extracellular matrix, as shown here for TN-R and lecticans, is important for the fine-regulation of developmental processes such as microprocess formation along the neurite and neurite outgrowth.

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