Hyaluronan (HA) plays an important role in tissue reorganization in response to injury. The mechanisms by which HA participates in these processes are likely to include HA-binding proteins. Previously, we reported the cloning and initial characterization of a central nervous system (CNS)-specific HA-binding protein, BEHAB (brain enriched hyaluronan binding), which was independently cloned in another laboratory and named brevican. BEHAB/brevican mRNA is expressed in the ventricular zone coincident with the initial proliferation and migration of glial cells and in surgical samples of human glioma, where glial-derived cells proliferate and migrate. To determine whether BEHAB/brevican is also expressed during the cellular proliferation and migration associated with CNS injury, we have examined BEHAB/brevican expression during reactive gliosis. BEHAB/brevican occurs as secreted and cell-surface, glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored, isoforms. The secreted, but not the GPI-anchored, isoform is up-regulated in response to a stab wound to the adult rat brain. The temporal regulation and spatial distribution of BEHAB/brevican expression parallel the gliotic response and the expression of the intermediate filament protein nestin. The up-regulation of BEHAB/brevican in response to CNS injury suggests a role for this extracellular matrix molecule in reactive gliosis. Glial process extension, a central element in the glial response to injury, may require the reexpression of both cytoskeletal and matrix elements that are normally expressed during the glial motility seen in the immature brain.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.