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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

HB-GAM (heparin-binding growth-associated molecule) and heparin-type glycans in the development and plasticity of neuron-target contacts.

HB-GAM is a secretory, extracellular matrix-associated protein that was isolated by screening for factors that enhance neurite outgrowth in rat brain neurons. The HB-GAM sequence clearly (about 50%) is homologous to that of MK (midkine) sequence, a protein discovered through screening for factors that mediate retinoic acid-induced cell differentiation. These lysine- and cysteine-rich sequences define a novel family of differentiation/growth factors, which are conserved in their structures from mammals to amphibians. HB-GAM is expressed strongly along axon pathways and target regions of axons during and prior to the stage of axonal growth in tissues. These findings, together with in vitro interactions with neurons, suggest that HB-GAM is a cell matrix-associated cue for growth cone migration. N-syndecan (syndecan-3) functions as a receptor/coreceptor in HB-GAM-induced neurite outgrowth in perinatal rat brain neurons. In addition to enhancing neurite growth in a developmentally regulated manner in early neurons, HB-GAM is accumulated at the growth cone-target interphase accompanying the onset of synaptogenesis, as evidenced by its presence at the neuromuscular junction of Xenopus and rat. In vitro studies suggest that HB-GAM functions as a local, synaptic matrix-associated factor that enhances both presynaptic and postsynaptic differentiation during development. In addition, a role in adult plasticity is suggested by studies on injury-induced and activity-dependent plasticity in rat hippocampus.[1]


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