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Neuroscience. 1994 May;60(1):145-57.

Developmentally regulated expression of a brain specific species of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan, neurocan, identified with a monoclonal antibody IG2 in the rat cerebrum.

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  • 1Department of Perinatology and Neuroglycoscience, Institute for Developmental Research, Aichi, Japan.


The mammalian brain contains many species of proteoglycan. To identify each proteoglycan species, we have raised monoclonal antibodies against soluble chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans purified from 10-day-old rat brains. One monoclonal antibody, named monoclonal antibody 1G2, recognized two proteoglycan species with 220,000 and 150,000 mol. wt core glycoproteins (chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan-220 and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan-150). Partial amino acid sequences of N-termini of their core proteins coincided with those of neurocan, a brain-unique chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan species, whose complete coding sequence was recently reported [Rauch et al. (1992) J. biol. Chem. 269, 19,536-19,547]. Western blots revealed that chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan-220 became detectable in the rat cerebrum on embryonic day 14, and that it disappeared from the brain around postnatal day 30. In contrast, a fairly large amount of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan-150 remained in the mature brain. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that 1G2 antigen was first localized in the preplate zone, then both in the marginal zone and in the subplate of the rat cerebrum on embryonic day 16, prior to arrival of the first thalamic afferents at the cortex. On embryonic day 20, immunolabeling with monoclonal antibody 1G2 began to spread from the subplate into the developing cortical plate. On postnatal day 10, the neuropil of the cerebrum, except for the barrel field, was diffusely stained with the antibody, intensely in the hippocampus and superficial layers (I-III) of the cerebral cortex and weakly elsewhere. The barrel hollows were stained very weakly compared with the barrel walls at this stage. The immunoreactivity in the hippocampus and superficial cortical layers was weakened in the mature brain, so that no particular staining pattern, but weak and diffuse staining was observed in the adult rat cerebrum. The 1G2 antigen was immunohistochemically associated largely with glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive cells in primary cultures of the neonatal rat cerebrum. Both chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan-220 and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan-150 were detected in the conditioned media not only of highly enriched cultures of fetal rat cortical neurons but also of pure cultures of mature astrocytes; more (12- to 20-fold) in the astrocyte conditioned media. Astrocytes, in addition to neurons, may be a cellular source of neurocan in brain at least under certain physiological conditions. The spaciotemporal expression pattern of 1G2 epitope-bearing proteoglycan, or neurocan, suggests that this proteoglycan species plays some roles at least in forming the elongation pathway for early cortical afferent fibers as well as the functional barrel structure in the somatosensory cortex.

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