Our study using a conditional knockout of EXT1, te gene encoding an enzyme essential for heparan sulfate biosynthesis, has demonstrated the crucial ole of heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) in multiple CMS morphogenetic evets (Inatani et al., Science 302:1144-1146, 2003). Yet the role of HSPGs in the nervous system is not limited to the CNS. There is evidece that HSPGs also play critical roles in the development and physiology of the peripheral nervous systm (PNS) by mediating molecular communications between axons and gia cells. This Component will focus on the role of heparan sulfate and HSPGs in neuron-glia interactions using Schwann cell-axon interactio as a model system.
Aim 1. Role of heparan sulfate in Schwann cell development: We have found that in ur EXT1 conditional knockout mice, the number of Schwann cells in peripheral nerves is greatly reduced. This suggests that HSPGs play a crucial role in the proliferation and/or migration of Schwann cells, the developmental events in which axon-derived factors and adhesive interactions with axons play significan roles. We will employ the EXT1 conditional knockout mice, cultures of Schwan cells, and neuregulin-1 knockout mice to investigate the role of HSPGs in Schwann cell development and their involvement in neuregulin-ErB signaling.
Aim 2. Role of heparan sulfate in myelin formation and function: Molecules that bind SPGs, such as laminins and neuregulins, are known to play criticalroles in myelination, and our preliminary studies have demonstrated aberrant myelination in the EXT1 conditional knockout mice. There are also clinicl reports suggesting that HSPGs are involved in the development of neuropathies. In this aim, by enetic, cell biological, and physiological experiments, we will investigate the role of HSPGs in developmental and physiological aspects of PNS myelin ensheathment. Overall, this Component will generatenew insight into the function of HSPGs in various types of neuron-glia interactions. Furthermore, through a series of collaborative studies, we will explore new lines of research at the interface between Components, obtaining answers to important questions beyond the immediate reaches of each Component.
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