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J Cell Sci. 1991 Jun;99 ( Pt 2):237-46.

Effects of beta-xylosides on proteoglycan biosynthesis and morphology of PC12 pheochromocytoma cells and primary cultures of rat cerebellum.

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Department of Pharmacology, State University of New York, Brooklyn 11203.


We have examined the effects of beta-xylosides, which act as exogenous acceptors for glycosaminoglycan chain initiation, on the morphology and proteoglycan biosynthesis of PC12 pheochromocytoma cells, and on monolayer, aggregate and explant cultures of early postnatal rat cerebellum. PC12 cells cultured for 13 days in the presence of nerve growth factor (NGF) and beta-xyloside, and labeled during days 11-13 with sodium [35S]sulfate, showed an 8- to 11-fold increase in [35S]sulfate-labeled macromolecules released into the culture medium. Most of the increase was accounted for by chondroitin sulfate, which was in the form of free glycosaminoglycan chains, which were not acid-precipitable. The presence of beta-xyloside also led to a 65-115% increase in [35S]sulfate incorporation into cell-associated glycosaminoglycans and glycoproteins of untreated and NGF-treated PC12 cells, respectively. beta-Xyloside treatment reduced the size of the chondroitin sulfate chains in both the cells and medium from approximately 34,000 to 10,000 Mr, but had much less effect on heparan sulfate, which decreased in size from 16,000 to 13,000-14,500 Mr (in the medium and cells, respectively). beta-Xyloside inhibition of proteoglycan biosynthesis was accompanied by significant morphological effects in NGF-treated PC12 cells, consisting of an increase in length and decrease in the branching, diameter and adhesion to the collagen substratum of the PC12 cell processes. p-Nitrophenyl- and 4-methylumbelliferyl-beta-D-xylosides produced similar effects, which were not seen with p-nitrophenyl-beta-D-galactoside. beta-Xylosides also produced distinct alterations in the adhesion and morphology of monolayer, aggregate, and explant cultures of early postnatal rat cerebellum, which occurred together with inhibition of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan biosynthesis and a decrease in glycosaminoglycan chain size. These studies indicate that chondroitin sulfate (and probably also heparan sulfate) proteoglycans play a significant role in modulating cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions in nervous tissue development and differentiation.

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