Neurocan is one of the major chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans of perinatal rodent brain. HEK-293 cells producing neurocan recombinantly show changes in their behavior. The expression of full-length neurocan led to a detachment of the secreting cells and the formation of floating spheroids. This occurred in the continuous presence of 10% fetal bovine serum in the culture medium. Cells secreting fragments of neurocan-containing chondroitin sulfate chains and the C-terminal domain of the molecule showed a similar behavior, whereas cells expressing fragments of neurocan-containing chondroitin sulfate chains but lacking parts of the C-terminal domain did not show spheroid formation. Cells secreting the hyaluronan-binding N-terminal domain of neurocan showed an enhanced adhesiveness. When untransfected HEK-293 cells were plated on a surface conditioned by spheroid-forming cells, they also formed spheroids. This effect could be abolished by chondroitinase treatment of the conditioned surface. The observations indicate that the ability of the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan neurocan to modulate the adhesive character of extracellular matrices is dependent on the structural integrity of the C-terminal domain of the core protein.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.