Astrocytes are major producers of the extracellular matrix (ECM), which is involved in the plasticity of the developing brain. In utero alcohol exposure alters neuronal plasticity. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are a family of polysaccharides present in the extracellular space; chondroitin sulfate (CS)- and heparan sulfate (HS)-GAGs are covalently bound to core proteins to form proteoglycans (PGs). Hyaluronic acid (HA)-GAGs are not bound to core proteins. In this study we investigated the contribution of astrocytes to CS-, HS-, and HA-GAG production by comparing the makeup of these GAGs in cortical astrocyte cultures and the neonatal rat cortex. We also explored alterations induced by ethanol in GAG and core protein levels in astrocytes. Finally, we investigated the relative expression in astrocytes of CS-PGs of the lectican family of proteins, major components of the brain ECM, in vivo using translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) (in Aldh1l1-EGFP-Rpl10a mice. Cortical astrocytes produce low levels of HA and show low expression of genes involved in HA biosynthesis compared to the whole developing cortex. Astrocytes have high levels of chondroitin-0-sulfate (C0S)-GAGs (possibly because of a higher sulfatase enzyme expression) and HS-GAGs. Ethanol upregulates C4S-GAGs as well as brain-specific lecticans neurocan and brevican, which are highly enriched in astrocytes of the developing cortex in vivo. These results begin to elucidate the role of astrocytes in the biosynthesis of CS- HS- and HA-GAGs, and suggest that ethanol-induced alterations of neuronal development may be in part mediated by increased astrocyte GAG levels and neurocan and brevican expression.
- Chondroitin sulfate (CS)
- Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)
- Heparan sulfate (HS)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience