Baidoe-Ansah D, Sakib S, Jia S, Mirzapourdelavar H, Strackeljan L Fischer A, Aleshin S, Kaushik R, Dityatev A
Cells 2022, 11(13), 2033.
Understanding changes in the expression of genes involved in regulating various components of the neural extracellular matrix (ECM) during aging can provide an insight into aging-associated decline in synaptic and cognitive functions. Hence, in this study, we compared the expression levels of ECM-related genes in the hippocampus of young, aged and very aged mice. ECM gene expression was downregulated, despite the accumulation of ECM proteoglycans during aging. The most robustly downregulated gene was carbohydrate sulfotransferase 3 (Chst3), the enzyme responsible for the chondroitin 6-sulfation (C6S) of proteoglycans. Further analysis of epigenetic mechanisms revealed a decrease in H3K4me3, three methyl groups at the lysine 4 on the histone H3 proteins, associated with the promoter region of the Chst3 gene, resulting in the downregulation of Chst3 expression in non-neuronal cells. Cluster analysis revealed that the expression of lecticans—substrates of CHST3—is tightly co-regulated with this enzyme. These changes in ECM-related genes were accompanied by an age-confounded decline in cognitive performance. Despite the co-directional impairment in cognitive function and average Chst3 expression in the studied age groups, at the individual level we found a negative correlation between mRNA levels of Chst3 and cognitive performance within the very aged group. An analysis of correlations between the expression of ECM-related genes and cognitive performance in novel object versus novel location recognition tasks revealed an apparent trade-off in the positive gene effects in one task at the expense of another. Further analysis revealed that, despite the reduction in the Chst3 mRNA, the expression of CHST3 protein is increased in glial cells but not in neurons, which, however, does not lead to changes in the absolute level of C6S and even results in the decrease in C6S in perineuronal, perisynaptic and periaxonal ECM relative to the elevated expression of its protein carrier versican.