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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1997 Nov;51(1-2):69-81.

Cloning and in situ hybridization analysis of the expression of polysialyltransferase mRNA in the developing and adult rat brain.

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Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Que., Canada.


Polysialyltransferase (PST) is an enzyme that catalyzes the addition of polysialic acid (PSA), a homopolymer of alpha-2,8-linked sialic acid residues, onto neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM). The expression of PSA-NCAM in the brain is developmentally regulated and is of critical importance; however, the temporal and spatial developmental expression of brain PST, a potential key player in the control of PSA-NCAM levels, remains unclear. In the present study, we have cloned the coding region of rat PST cDNA by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, using primers based on the hamster PST-1 cDNA sequence. A 39-mer oligonucleotide complementary to rat PST cDNA was synthesized to investigate the distribution of its mRNA in the developing and adult rat brain by Northern blot and in situ hybridization. In the embryonic rat brain, PST mRNA was detected abundantly throughout the neuroepithelia of most brain regions. At post-natal days 1 and 14, PST was detected throughout the neocortex, in the pyramidal cells (PC) of the hippocampus proper, the granule cell layer (GCL) of the dentate gyrus, the anterior ventral nucleus of the thalamus (AVNT) and the GCL and external germinal layer of the cerebellum. Finally, from PD21 until adulthood, expression of PST mRNA was restricted to the PC layer of the hippocampus proper, the GCL of the dentate gyrus, the AVNT, the GCL of the cerebellum and the dorsal and lateral nucleus of the anterior olfactory bulb. The developmental profile of PST mRNA is paralleled in some structures by that of the PSA-NCAM, there are, however, notable exceptions. Therefore, our results demonstrate that expression of rat PST mRNA is developmentally regulated, is present in the adult rat brain in restricted areas and may be involved in regulating temporal and spatial expression of PSA-NCAM.

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