eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) Not-for-Profit Open Access
Created by Scientists, for Scientists
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2015   Volume No 30 – pages 69-88

Title: The transmembrane heparan sulphate proteoglycan syndecan-4 is involved in establishment of the lamellar structure of the annulus fibrosus of the intervertebral disc

Author: MC Beckett, JR Ralphs, B Caterson, AJ Hayes

Address: Bioimaging Unit, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3US, UK

E-mail: hayesaj at

Key Words: Syndecan-4, glypican-6, heparan sulphate, collagen, annulus fibrosus, intervertebral disc.

Publication date: August 14th 2015

Abstract: The annulus fibrosus of the intervertebral disc unites adjacent vertebral bodies along the length of the spine and provides tensile resistance towards compressive, twisting and bending movements arising through gait. It consists of a nested series of oriented collagenous lamellae, arranged in cross-ply circumferentially around the nucleus pulposus. The organisation of oriented collagen in the annulus is established during foetal development by an identical arrangement of oriented fibroblasts that are precisely organised into cell sheets, or laminae. These provide a template for ordered deposition of extracellular matrix material on cell surfaces, by means of a poorly understood mechanism involving the actin cytoskeleton. In this study, we investigate the role of two cell surface heparan sulphate proteoglycans (HSPGs), glypican-6 and syndecan-4, in the matrix assembly process in the developmental rat intervertebral disc. We compare their expression patterns with those of heparan sulphate and the interactive, cell-surface adhesive glycoprotein, fibronectin, and relate these to the stage-specific collagenous architectures present within the annulus at both light and electron microscopic levels. We show that both proteoglycans are strongly associated with the development, growth and aging of the intervertebral disc. Furthermore, the immunohistochemical labelling patterns suggest that syndecan-4, in particular, plays a potentially-significant role in annulus formation. We propose that this HSPG mediates interaction between the actin cytoskeleton and nascent extracellular matrix in the lamellar organisation of annulus tissue. These data add considerably towards an understanding of how cells organise and maintain complex, oriented extracellular matrices and has particular clinical relevance to the fields of tissue engineering and repair.

Article download: Pages 69-88 (PDF file)
DOI: 10.22203/eCM.v030a06