A sulfated carbohydrate epitope inhibits axon regeneration after injury.

Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.74). 03/2012; 109(13):4768-73. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1121318109
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) represent a major barrier to regenerating axons in the central nervous system (CNS), but the structural diversity of their polysaccharides has hampered efforts to dissect the structure-activity relationships underlying their physiological activity. By taking advantage of our ability to chemically synthesize specific oligosaccharides, we demonstrate that a sugar epitope on CSPGs, chondroitin sulfate-E (CS-E), potently inhibits axon growth. Removal of the CS-E motif significantly attenuates the inhibitory activity of CSPGs on axon growth. Furthermore, CS-E functions as a protein recognition element to engage receptors including the transmembrane protein tyrosine phosphatase PTPσ, thereby triggering downstream pathways that inhibit axon growth. Finally, masking the CS-E motif using a CS-E-specific antibody reversed the inhibitory activity of CSPGs and stimulated axon regeneration in vivo. These results demonstrate that a specific sugar epitope within chondroitin sulfate polysaccharides can direct important physiological processes and provide new therapeutic strategies to regenerate axons after CNS injury.

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