Brain structure & function

The extracellular matrix glycoprotein tenascin-C and matrix metalloproteinases modify cerebellar structural plasticity by exposure to an enriched environment.

PMID 27089885


The importance of the extracellular matrix (ECM) glycoprotein tenascin-C (TnC) and the ECM degrading enzymes, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) -2 and -9, in cerebellar histogenesis is well established. This study aimed to examine whether there is a functional relationship between these molecules in regulating structural plasticity of the lateral deep cerebellar nucleus. To this end, starting from postnatal day 21, TnC- or MMP-9-deficient mice were exposed to an enriched environment (EE). We show that 8xa0weeks of exposure to EE leads to reduced lectin-based staining of perineuronal nets (PNNs), reduction in the size of GABAergic and increase in the number and size of glutamatergic synaptic terminals in wild-type mice. Conversely, TnC-deficient mice showed reduced staining of PNNs compared to wild-type mice maintained under standard conditions, and exposure to EE did not further reduce, but even slightly increased PNN staining. EE did not affect the densities of the two types of synaptic terminals in TnC-deficient mice, while the size of inhibitory, but not excitatory synaptic terminals was increased. In the time frame of 4-8xa0weeks, MMP-9, but not MMP-2, was observed to influence PNN remodeling and cerebellar synaptic plasticity as revealed by measurement of MMP-9 activity and colocalization with PNNs and synaptic markers. These findings were supported by observations on MMP-9-deficient mice. The present study suggests that TnC contributes to the regulation of structural plasticity in the cerebellum and that interactions between TnC and MMP-9 are likely to be important for these processes to occur.