Proteoglycans in the developing brain: new conceptual insights for old proteins

Physiol Rev. 2000 Oct;80(4):1267-90. doi: 10.1152/physrev.2000.80.4.1267.


Proteoglycans are a heterogeneous class of proteins bearing sulfated glycosaminoglycans. Some of the proteoglycans have distinct core protein structures, and others display similarities and thus may be grouped into families such as the syndecans, the glypicans, or the hyalectans (or lecticans). Proteoglycans can be found in almost all tissues being present in the extracellular matrix, on cellular surfaces, or in intracellular granules. In recent years, brain proteoglycans have attracted growing interest due to their highly regulated spatiotemporal expression during nervous system development and maturation. There is increasing evidence that different proteoglycans act as regulators of cell migration, axonal pathfinding, synaptogenesis, and structural plasticity. This review summarizes the most recent data on structures and functions of brain proteoglycans and focuses on new physiological concepts for their potential roles in the developing central nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cell Movement
  • Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans / metabolism
  • Glycosaminoglycans / metabolism
  • Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycans / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurites / physiology
  • Neuroglia / cytology
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases / metabolism
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism*
  • Receptor-Like Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases, Class 5
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Syndecans


  • Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans
  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycans
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Proteoglycans
  • Syndecans
  • PTPRZ1 protein, human
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases
  • Receptor-Like Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases, Class 5