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Keywords:

  • brevican;
  • chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan;
  • lectican;
  • fimbria;
  • oligodendrocyte;
  • astrocyte

Abstract

Brevican is one of the most abundant extracellular matrix proteoglycans in the mammalian brain. We have previously shown that brevican produced by gray matter astrocytes constitutes a major component of perineuronal extracellular matrix in the adult brain. In this paper, we investigate the expression of brevican in the postnatal hippocampal fimbria to explore the role of the proteoglycan in central nervous system fiber tract development. We demonstrate that brevican is expressed by both oligodendrocytes and white matter astrocytes in the fimbria, but the expression of brevican in these two glial cell types is differently regulated during development. At P14, brevican immunoreactivity was observed throughout the fimbria, with particularly strong immunoreactivity in the developing interfascicular glial rows. In situ hybridization showed that oligodendrocytes in the glial rows strongly express brevican during the second and third postnatal weeks. Expression in oligodendrocytes was then down-regulated after P21. In the adult fimbria, no brevican expression was observed in oligodendrocytes. The time window of brevican expression coincides with the phase in which immature oligodendrocytes actively extend membrane processes and enwrap axon fibers. In contrast, the expression in astrocytes started around P21 as oligodendrocytes began to down-regulate the expression. In the adult fimbria, brevican expression was restricted to astrocytes. In situ hybridization with isoform-specific probes and RNase protection assays showed that the authentic, secreted form of brevican, not the glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored variant, is the predominant species expressed in the developing fimbria. Our results suggest that brevican plays a dual role in developing and adult fiber tracts. J. Comp. Neurol. 432:285–295, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.