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J Neurochem. 2002 Dec;83(6):1380-8.

Identification of a peptide mimic of the L2/HNK-1 carbohydrate epitope.

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Department of Neurobiology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Hönggerberg, Zürich, Switzerland.


The L2/HNK-1 carbohydrate is carried by many neural recognition molecules and is involved in neural cell interactions during development, regeneration in the peripheral nervous system, synaptic plasticity, and autoimmune-based neuropathies. Its key structure consists of a sulfated glucuronic acid linked to lactosaminyl residues. Because of its biological importance but limited availability, the phage display method was used to isolate a collection of peptide mimics that bind specifically to an L2/HNK-1 antibody. The phages isolated from a 15-mer peptide library by adsorption to this antibody share a consensus sequence of amino acids. The peptide mimicked several important functions of the L2/HNK-1 carbohydrate, such as binding to motor neurons in vitro, and preferential promotion of in vitro neurite outgrowth from motor axons compared with sensory neurons. A scrambled version of the peptide had no activity. The combined observations indicate that we have isolated a mimic of the L2/HNK-1 carbohydrate that is able to act as its functional substitute.

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