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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2006 Feb;16(1):40-51. Epub 2006 Jan 18.

Heparan sulfate proteoglycans and the emergence of neuronal connectivity.

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Departments of Cell Biology and Program in Neuroscience and Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, 240 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.


With the identification of the molecular determinants of neuronal connectivity, our understanding of the extracellular information that controls axon guidance and synapse formation has evolved from single factors towards the complexity that neurons face in a living organism. As we move in this direction - ready to see the forest for the trees - attention is returning to one of the most ancient regulators of cell-cell interaction: the extracellular matrix. Among many matrix components that influence neuronal connectivity, recent studies of the heparan sulfate proteoglycans suggest that these ancient molecules function as versatile extracellular scaffolds that both sculpt the landscape of extracellular cues and modulate the way that neurons perceive the world around them.

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