Old astrocyte specifically induced substance (OASIS), a basic leucine zipper transcription factor of the cAMP response element binding/Activating transcription factor family, is induced in reactive astrocytes in vivo and has important roles in quality control of protein synthesis at the endoplasmic reticulum. Reactive astrocytes produce a non-permissive environment for regenerating axons by up-regulating chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs). In this study, we focus on the potential role of OASIS in CSPG production in the adult mouse cerebral cortex. CS-C immunoreactivity, which represents chondroitin sulfate moieties, was significantly attenuated in the stab-injured cortices of OASIS knockout mice compared to those of wild-type mice. We next examined expression of the CSPG-synthesizing enzymes and core proteins of CSPGs in the stab-injured cortices of OASIS knockout and wild-type mice. The levels of chondroitin 6-O-sulfotransferase 1 (C6ST1, one of the major enzymes involved in sulfation of CSPGs) mRNA and protein increased after cortical stab injury of wild-type, but not of OASIS knockout, mice. A C-terminal deletion mutant OASIS over-expressed in rat C6 glioma cells increased C6ST1 transcription by interacting with the first intron region. Neurite outgrowth of cultured hippocampal neurons was inhibited on culture dishes coated with membrane fractions of epidermal growth factor-treated astrocytes derived from wild type but not from OASIS knockout mice. These results suggest that OASIS regulates the transcription of C6ST1 and thereby promotes CSPG sulfation in astrocytes. Through these mechanisms, OASIS may modulate axonal regeneration in the injured cerebral cortex.
OASIS, an ER stress-responsive CREB/ATF family member, is up-regulated in the reactive astrocytes of the injured brain. We found that the up-regulated OASIS is involved in the transcriptional regulation of C6ST1 gene, which promotes chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (CSPG) sulfation. We conclude that OASIS functions as an anti-regenerative transcription factor by establishing a non-permissive microenvironment to regenerating axons.