Aggrecan is one of the major chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) expressed in the central nervous system. The signaling pathways activated downstream of cell interaction with aggrecan and with CSPGs in general and the importance of chondroitin sulfate-glycosaminoglycan side chains in their inhibition are unclear. Therefore, to analyze the effect of different components of aggrecan in inhibiting neurite growth, neurite outgrowth was quantified in an in vitro model in which chick dorsal root ganglion (DRG) explants were grown on substrates containing aggrecan bound to hyaluronan and link protein as a macromolecular aggregate, aggrecan monomers, hyaluronan, or ChABC-treated aggrecan. Aggrecan aggregate, aggrecan monomer, and hyaluronan inhibited neurite outgrowth from nerve growth factor (NGF)- and neurotrophin-3 (NT3)-responsive DRG neurons. Aggrecan inhibition was dependent on its chondroitin sulfate-glycosaminoglycans, as ChABC digestion alleviated neurite inhibition because of aggrecan. Growth cones displayed full or partial collapse on aggrecan aggregate, hyaluronan, and ChABC-treated aggrecan. Inhibition of Rho kinase (ROCK) with Y27632 increased neurite growth on some but not all of the aggrecan components tested. With NGF in the culture medium, Y27632 increased neurite outgrowth on aggrecan aggregate, monomers, and ChABC-treated aggrecan, but not on hyaluronan. The ROCK inhibitor also increased NT3-responsive outgrowth on aggrecan aggregate and hyaluronan, but not on ChABC-treated aggrecan. This study showed that the matrix proteoglycan aggrecan and its components have multiple effects on neurite outgrowth and that some of these effects involve the Rho/ROCK pathway.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.