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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1990 Aug 1;55(1):11-9.

Astrocyte topography and tenascin cytotactin expression: correlation with the ability to support neuritic outgrowth.

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Department of Pharmacology University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway 08854.


We have observed a heterogeneity in the ability of a monolayer of cultured rat astrocytes to support the attachment and growth of dissociated embryonic hypothalamic neurons in culture. Areas of the monolayer which have an uneven surface ('rocky' astrocytes) are poor substrates for neuronal attachment and neuritic outgrowth, while surrounding areas of the glial monolayer ('flat' astrocytes) support extensive neuronal growth. Astrocytes obtained from both neonatal cerebral cortex or hypothalamus displayed 'rocky' morphology. We utilized immunocytochemical techniques with antibodies directed against putative adhesion molecules to investigate the source of this heterogeneity. Antibodies against tenascin/cytotacin, fibronectin, laminin, N-CAM, thrombospondin, heparan sulfate proteoglycan, and the p185 protein product of the neu oncogene were employed in indirect-immunofluorescence experiments. We found that the difference in the surface properties of astrocytes appears to be correlated with the expression of the extracellular matrix molecule tenascin/cytotacin, but not with any of the other molecules we tested. Our data suggest that tenascin/cytotactin is inhibitory to neuronal attachment and process outgrowth in the developing nervous system.

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