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Exp Neurol. 2008 Apr;210(2):428-40. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2007.11.014. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

Multimodal signaling by the ADAMTSs (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs) promotes neurite extension.

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University of South Florida College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology, 12901 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33612-4799, USA.


Aggregating proteoglycans (PG) bearing chondroitin sulfate (CS) side chains associate with hyaluronan and various secreted proteins to form a complex of extracellular matrix (ECM) that inhibits neural plasticity in the central nervous system (CNS). Chondroitinase treatment depletes PGs of their CS side chains and enhances neurite extension. Increasing evidence from in vivo models indicates that proteolytic cleavage of the PG core protein by members of the ADAMTS (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs) family of glutamyl-endopeptidases also promotes neural plasticity. The purpose of this study was to determine whether proteolytic action of the ADAMTSs influences neurite outgrowth in cultured neurons. Transfection of primary rat neurons with ADAMTS4 cDNA induced longer neurites, whether the neurons were grown on a monolayer of astrocytes that secrete inhibitory PGs or on laminin/poly-L-lysine substrate alone. Similar results were found when neurons were transfected with a construct encoding a proteolytically inactive, point mutant of ADAMTS4. Addition of recombinant ADAMTS4 or ADAMTS5 protein to immature neuronal cultures also enhanced neurite extension in a dose-dependent manner, an effect demonstrated to be dependent on the activation of MAP ERK1/2 kinase. These results suggest that ADAMTS4 enhances neurite outgrowth via a mechanism that does not require proteolysis but is dependent on activation of the MAP kinase cascade. Thus a model to illustrate multimodal ADAMTS activity would entail proteolysis of CS-bearing PGs to create a loosened matrix environment more favorable for neurite outgrowth, and enhanced neurite outgrowth directly stimulated by ADAMTS signaling at the cell surface.

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