Proteoglycans (PGs) synthesized by the epidermis during stages crucial to the subepidermal migration of neural crest cells in the trunk of the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum, Urodela, Amphibia) embryo were studied. The glycosaminoglycan chains were biosynthetically labeled with [35S]sulfate in vitro during a period corresponding to the onset of migration. After extraction with guanidine HCl, the radiolabeled PGs were separated according to size by molecular-sieve chromatography on Sepharose CL-2B under dissociative conditions. This resulted in the separation of high-molecular-weight PGs, which eluted in the void volume, and low-molecular-weight PGs, eluting in a broad peak with a mean Kav of 0.7. The large PGs were also found to elute in the void volume when chromatographed on a Sephacryl S-1000 column. The low-molecular-weight PGs contained heparan sulfate and chondroitin sulfate (CS) and were not further characterized. The glycosaminoglycan component of the high-molecular-weight PG was completely degraded by chondroitinase ABC, while a large portion was resistant to chondroitinase AC, indicating the presence of dermatan sulfate (DS). These CS/DS chains were of unusually large size (Mr approximately 150,000) as estimated by chromatography on Sepharose CL-4B, relating the elution position to hyaluronan standards. Moreover, the chains were found to have a lower surface charge density than standard CS, and may therefore be undersulfated. After reduction and alkylation the high-molecular-weight PGs were included on both Sepharose CL-2B and Sephacryl S-1000 columns, eluting at Kav 0.2 and 0.4, respectively. Hence, the high-molecular-weight material appears to consist of large PG complexes, stabilized by intermolecular disulfide bonds. A CS/DSPG of similar size as the reduced monomeric form of the high-molecular-weight PG was found in small amounts in the total extract of 35S-labeled material.
1991. Vol. 290, no 2, 391-6 p.