In contrast to the intracellular (cytoplasmic) localization of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans in adult brain (Aquino, D. A., R. U. Margolis, and R. K. Margolis, 1984, J. Cell Biol. 99:940-952), immunoelectron microscopic studies in immature (7 d postnatal) rat cerebellum demonstrated almost exclusively extracellular staining in the granule cell and molecular layers. Staining was also extracellular and/or associated with plasma membranes in the region of the presumptive white matter. Axons, which are unmyelinated at this age, generally did not stain, although faint intracellular staining was present in some astrocytes. At 10 and 14 d postnatal there was a significant decrease in extracellular space and staining, and by 21 d distinct cytoplasmic staining of neurons and astrocytes appeared. This intracellular staining further increased by 33 d so as to closely resemble the pattern seen in adult brain. Analyses of the proteoglycans isolated from 7-d-old and adult brain demonstrated that they have essentially identical biochemical compositions, immunochemical reactivity, size, charge, and density. These findings indicate that the antibodies used in this study recognize the same macromolecule in both early postnatal and adult brain, and that the localization of this proteoglycan changes progressively from an extracellular to an intracellular location during brain development.

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