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Neuron Glia Biol. 2008 Aug;4(3):249-57. doi: 10.1017/S1740925X09990226.

The crosstalk of hyaluronan-based extracellular matrix and synapses.

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Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, Magdeburg, Germany.


Many neurons and their synapses are enwrapped in a brain-specific form of the extracellular matrix (ECM), the so-called perineuronal net (PNN). It forms late in the postnatal development around the time when synaptic contacts are stabilized. It is made of glycoproteins and proteoglycans of glial as well as neuronal origin. The major organizing polysaccharide of brain extracellular space is the polymeric carbohydrate hyaluronic acid (HA). It forms the backbone of a meshwork consisting of CNS proteoglycans such as the lectican family of chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPG). This family comprises four abundant components of brain ECM: aggrecan and versican as broadly expressed CSPGs and neurocan and brevican as nervous-system-specific family members. In this review, we intend to focus on the specific role of the HA-based ECM in synapse development and function.

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