Neurite outgrowth from PC12 pheochromocytoma cells, as well as from peripheral and central nervous system neurons in vitro, is mediated by the extracellular matrix molecule, laminin. We have recently shown that mesenchymal cell spreading and migration on laminin is mediated, in part, by the cell surface enzyme, beta 1,4 galactosyltransferase (GalTase). GalTase is localized on lamellipodia of migrating cells where it functions as a laminin receptor by binding to specific N-linked oligosaccharides in laminin (Runyan et al., 1988; Eckstein and Shur, 1989). In the present study, we examined whether GalTase functions similarly during neutrite outgrowth on laminin using biochemical and immunological analyses. PC12 neurite outgrowth was inhibited by reagents that perturb cell surface GalTase activity, including anti-GalTase IgG and Fab fragments, as well as the GalTase modifier protein alpha-lactalbumin. Control reagents had no effect on neurite outgrowth. Furthermore, blocking GalTase substrates on laminin matrices by earlier galactosyltion or enzymatic removal of GalTase substrates also inhibited neurite outgrowth. Conversely, neurite outgrowth was enhanced by the addition of UDP-galactose, which completes the GalTase enzymatic reaction, while inappropriate sugar nucleotides had no effect. The effects of all these treatments were dose and/or time dependent. Surface GalTase was shown to function during both neurite initiation and elongation, although the effects of GalTase perturbation were most striking during the initiation stages of neurite formation. Consistent with this, surface GalTase was localized by indirect immunofluorescence to the growth cone and developing neurite. Collectively, these results demonstrate that GalTase mediates the initiation of neurite outgrowth on laminin, and to a lesser extent, neurite elongation. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that process extension from both mesenchymal cells and neuronal cells is partly dependent upon specific oligosaccharide residues in laminin.

This content is only available as a PDF.