Enzymatic degradation of cortical perineuronal nets reverses GABAergic interneuron maturation

Ashleigh Willis, Judith A. Pratt, Brian J. Morris

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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Perineuronal nets (PNNs) are specialised extracellular matrix structures which preferentially enwrap fast-spiking (FS) parvalbumin interneurons and have diverse roles in the cortex. PNN maturation coincides with closure of the critical period of cortical plasticity. We have previously demonstrated that BDNF accelerates interneuron development in a c-Jun-NH -terminal kinase (JNK)-dependent manner, which may involve upstream thousand-and-one amino acid kinase 2 (TAOK2). Chondroitinase-ABC (ChABC) enzymatic digestion of PNNs reportedly reactivates 'juvenile-like' plasticity in the adult CNS. However, the mechanisms involved are unclear. We show that ChABC produces an immature molecular phenotype in cultured cortical neurons, corresponding to the phenotype prior to critical period closure. ChABC produced different patterns of PNN-related, GABAergic and immediate early (IE) gene expression than well-characterised modulators of mature plasticity and network activity (GABA -R antagonist, bicuculline, and sodium-channel blocker, tetrodotoxin (TTX)). ChABC downregulated JNK activity, while this was upregulated by bicuculline. Bicuculline, but not ChABC, upregulated Bdnf expression and ERK activity. Furthermore, we found that BDNF upregulation of semaphorin-3A and IE genes was TAOK mediated. Our data suggest that ChABC heightens structural flexibility and network disinhibition, potentially contributing to 'juvenile-like' plasticity. The molecular phenotype appears to be distinct from heightened mature synaptic plasticity and could relate to JNK signalling. Finally, we highlight that BDNF regulation of plasticity and PNNs involves TAOK signalling. [Abstract copyright: © 2022. The Author(s).]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2874-2893
Number of pages20
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Issue number5
Early online date1 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • extracellular matrix
  • c‐Jun N‐terminal kinase (JNK)
  • synaptic plasticity
  • TAOK2
  • glycoprotein biosynthesis
  • brain‐derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
  • bicuculline


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