Glycosaminoglycans in extracellular matrix organisation are concepts from soft matter physics key to understanding the formation of perineuronal nets Journal Article


Author(s): Richter, Ralf P; Baranova, Natalia S; Day, Anthony J; Kwok, Jessica C
Article Title: Glycosaminoglycans in extracellular matrix organisation are concepts from soft matter physics key to understanding the formation of perineuronal nets
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: Conventional wisdom has it that proteins fold and assemble into definite structures, and that this defines their function. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are different. In most cases the structures they form have a low degree of order, even when interacting with proteins. Here, we discuss how physical features common to all GAGs — hydrophilicity, charge, linearity and semi-flexibility — underpin the overall properties of GAG-rich matrices. By integrating soft matter physics concepts (e.g. polymer brushes and phase separation) with our molecular understanding of GAG–protein interactions, we can better comprehend how GAG-rich matrices assemble, what their properties are, and how they function. Taking perineuronal nets (PNNs) — a GAG-rich matrix enveloping neurons — as a relevant example, we propose that microphase separation determines the holey PNN anatomy that is pivotal to PNN functions.
Journal Title: Current Opinion in Structural Biology
Volume: 50
ISSN: 0959440X
Publisher: Elsevier  
Date Published: 2018-06-01
Start Page: 65
End Page: 74
DOI: 10.1016/j.sbi.2017.12.002
Notes: This work was supported by the European Research Council [Starting Grant 306435 ‘JELLY’; to RPR], the Spanish Ministry of Competitiveness and Innovation [MAT2014-54867-R, to RPR], the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine — Innovation in Medical and Biological Engineering [EP/L014823/1, to JCFK], the Royal Society [RG160410, to JCFK], Wings for Life [WFL-UK-008/15, to JCFK] and the European Union, the Operational Programme Research, Development and Education in the framework of the project ‘Centre of Reconstructive Neuroscience’ [CZ.02.1.01/0.0./0.0/15_003/0000419, to JCFK]. AJD would like to thank Arthritis Research UK [16539, 19489] and the MRC [76445, G0900538] for funding his work on GAG–protein interactions.
Open access: no