Glycosaminoglycan-dependent and -independent inhibition of neurite outgrowth by agrin

Kristine Baerwald-De La Torre, Uwe Winzen, Willi Halfter, John L. Bixby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Agrin is a proteoglycan that can inhibit neurite outgrowth from multiple neuronal types when present as a substrate. Agrin's neurite inhibitory activity is confined to the N-terminal segment of the protein (agrin N150), which contains heparan sulfate (HS) and chondroitin sulfate (CS) side chains. We have examined the activities of various purified recombinant agrin fragments and their glycosaminoglycan (GAG) side chains in neurite outgrowth inhibition. Inhibitory activity was tested using dissociated chick ciliary ganglion neurons or dorsal root ganglion explants growing on laminin or N-cadherin. Initial experiments demonstrated that agrin N150 lacking GAG chains inhibited neurite outgrowth. Both halves of N150, each containing HS and/or CS side chains, could also inhibit neurite growth. Experiments using agrin fragments in which the GAG acceptor residues were mutated, or using agrin fragments purified from cells deficient in GAG synthesis, demonstrated that inhibition by the N-terminal portion of N150 requires GAGs, but that inhibition from the C-terminal part of N150 does not. Thus, the core protein or other types of glycosylation are important for inhibition from the more C-terminal region. Our results suggest that there are two distinct mechanisms for neurite outgrowth inhibition by agrin, one that is GAG-dependent and one that is GAG -independent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-61
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Agrin
  • Chondroitin sulfate
  • Ciliary ganglion
  • Glycosaminoglycan
  • Heparan sulfate
  • Neurite inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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