In mammals, the central and peripheral nervous systems are developmentally derived from cells in the neural plate. Specific ectodermal cells in this area form the neural tube and neural crest during the early developmental stage. The neural tube is the origin of the central nervous system which consists of both the brain and spinal cord, whereas neural crest cells are precursors of the peripheral nervous system. During neural tube formation and neural crest development, carbohydrate-rich molecules, including glycolipids, glycoproteins, and proteoglycans, are expressed primarily on the outer surface of cell plasma membranes. The structural diversity of their carbohydrate moieties coupled with their expression at different stages of development makes these molecules excellent biomarkers for various cell types. In addition, these molecules play crucial functional roles in cell proliferation, differentiation, interaction, migration, and signal transduction. In this chapter, we discuss the expression profiles and potential functional roles of glycoconjugates during neural development.
- Journal Article