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J Neurosci. 1998 May 15;18(10):3757-66.

Removal of polysialic acid-neural cell adhesion molecule induces aberrant mossy fiber innervation and ectopic synaptogenesis in the hippocampus.

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Department of Neurosciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


The mossy fiber axons of both the developing and adult dentate gyrus express the highly polysialylated form of neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) as they innervate the proximal apical dendrites of pyramidal cells in the CA3 region of the hippocampus. The present study used polysialic acid (PSA)-deficient and NCAM mutant mice to evaluate the role of PSA in mossy fiber development. The results indicate that removal of PSA by either specific enzymatic degradation or mutation of the NCAM-180 isoform that carries PSA in the brain causes an aberrant and persistent innervation of the pyramidal cell layer by mossy fibers, including excessive collateral sprouting and/or defasciculation of these processes, as well as formation of ectopic mossy fiber synaptic boutons. These results are considered in terms of two possible effects of PSA removal: an increase in the number of mossy fibers that can grow into the pyramidal cell layer and an inhibition of process retraction by formation of stable junctions including synapses. As these defects on granule cells in the adult animal and PSA-positive granule cells continue to be produced in the mature brain, the present findings may be relevant to previous studies suggesting that PSA-NCAM function is required for long-term potentiation, long-term depression, and learning behaviors associated with hippocampus.

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