Anatomy and Embryology

, Volume 188, Issue 2, pp 189-199

First online:

Molecular heterogeneity of chondroitin sulphate in the early developing chick wing bud

  • Marian Fernandez-TeranAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Cantabria, Faculty of Medicine
  • , Michael BaylissAffiliated withDivision of Biochemistry, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology
  • , Charles W. ArcherAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy, University of Wales College of Cardiff

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Proteoglycans are ubiquitous extracellular matrix molecules whose role in development remains poorly understood. In the developing chick limb, the nature and possible roles of a number of extracellular matrix proteins is well documented. Much less is known of the biochemical nature, and more importantly, the roles of proteoglycans. Using a panel of monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) which recognise specifie epitopes on the constituent chondroitin/dermatan sulphate chains, we show that distinct sub-populations of proteoglycans are dynamically expressed within the limb ectoderm, the ectodermal basement membrane and the limb mesenchyme. In particular, prior to chondrogensis, chondroitin-6-sulphate-rich proteoglycans containing over-sulphated domains reside predominantly within the mesenchymal extracellular matrix ECM, whilst chondroitin-4-sulphate (C-4-S) is associated with the ectodermal basement membrane and subjacent mesenchymal ECM. At stage 24, C-4-S is also localized in the prechondrogenic condensation. Concomitantly with overt chondrogenesis, the epitopes recognized by the Mabs become restricted to the chondrifying skeletal elements and the undifferentiated distal mesenchyme. The significance of these findings has yet to be elucidated.

Key words

Proteoglycan Heterogeneity Limb mesenchyme Immunocytochemistry