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Published June 13, 2023 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Chondroitin 4-O-sulfation regulates hippocampal perineuronal nets and social memory


Glycan alterations are associated with aging, neuropsychiatric, and neurodegenerative diseases, although the contributions of specific glycan structures to emotion and cognitive functions remain largely unknown. Here, we used a combination of chemistry and neurobiology to show that 4-O-sulfated chondroitin sulfate (CS) polysaccharides are critical regulators of perineuronal nets (PNNs) and synapse development in the mouse hippocampus, thereby affecting anxiety and cognitive abilities such as social memory. Brain-specific deletion of CS 4-O-sulfation in mice increased PNN densities in the area CA2 (cornu ammonis 2), leading to imbalanced excitatory-to-inhibitory synaptic ratios, reduced CREB activation, elevated anxiety, and social memory dysfunction. The impairments in PNN densities, CREB activity, and social memory were recapitulated by selective ablation of CS 4-O-sulfation in the CA2 region during adulthood. Notably, enzymatic pruning of the excess PNNs reduced anxiety levels and restored social memory, while chemical manipulation of CS 4-O-sulfation levels reversibly modulated PNN densities surrounding hippocampal neurons and the balance of excitatory and inhibitory synapses. These findings reveal key roles for CS 4-O-sulfation in adult brain plasticity, social memory, and anxiety regulation, and they suggest that targeting CS 4-O-sulfation may represent a strategy to address neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases associated with social cognitive dysfunction.

Additional Information

© 2023 the Author(s). Published by PNAS. This article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND). We thank Prof. Melitta Schachner and Dr. Nuray Akyüz for generously sharing the Chst11loxP/loxP and Chst11+/− mice, Dr. Henry Lester (Caltech) for providing the stereotactic device for mouse brain surgery, and Dr. Wei-Li Wu (Caltech, now at the National Cheng Kung University) for providing help and suggestions on the animal behavioral paradigms. This work was supported by the NIH (R01 GM093627). Author contributions: H.H., Y.O., and L.C.H.-W. designed research; H.H., Y.Z., G.M.M., and G.C.Z. performed research; H.H., Y.Z., Y.O. and L.C.H.-W. analyzed data; and H.H., A.M.J., and L.C.H.-W. wrote the paper. The authors declare no competing interest.

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Published - pnas.2301312120.pdf

Supplemental Material - pnas.2301312120.sapp.pdf


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August 22, 2023
December 22, 2023