N-Acetylglucosamine 6-O-sulfotransferase-1 is required for brain keratan sulfate biosynthesis and glial scar formation after brain injury

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Keratan sulfate (KS) is a glycosaminoglycan composed of repeating disaccharide units with sulfate residues at the C6 positions of galactose and N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc). The N-acetylglucosamine 6-O-sulfotransferase(s) (GlcNAc6ST) involved in the synthesis of KS in the central nervous system (CNS) has long been unidentified. Here, we report that a deficiency of GlcNAc6ST-1 leads to loss of 5D4-reactive brain KS and reduction of glial scar formation after cortical stab injury in mice. During the development of mice deficient in GlcNAc6ST-1, KS expression in the brain was barely detectable with the KS-specific antibody 5D4. The reactivity of 5D4 antibody with protein tyrosine phosphatase ζ (PTPζ), a KS proteoglycan (KSPG), was abolished in the deficient mice. In adults, brain injury induced 5D4-reactive KS synthesis in the wounded area in wild-type (WT) mice but not in the deficient mice. Glial scar is formed via the accumulation of reactive astrocytes and is a major obstacle to axonal regeneration by injured neurons. Reactive astrocytes appeared to similar extents in the two genotypes, but they accumulated in the wounded area to a lesser extent in the deficient mice. Consequently, the deficient mice exhibited a marked reduction of scarring and enhanced neuronal regeneration after brain injury. These findings highlight the indispensable role of GlcNAc6ST-1 in brain KS biosynthesis and glial scar formation after brain injury.

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