Toward Understanding Keratan Sulfate Biosynthesis in the Chick Embryonic Cornea

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Tyler Schwend

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The cornea, the most densely innervated tissue on the surface of the body, becomes innervated by sensory trigeminal nerves in a highly coordinated fashion. In the embryonic chicken eye, trigeminal growth cones arrive at the corneal periphery on the fifth day of embryonic development (E5). The nerves then form a ring around the cornea; the cornea does not become permissive to nerve growth until E10. Upon entering the cornea at E10-11, trigeminal axons are restricted to the anterior half of the corneal stroma and defasciculate extensively from the main nerve bundles. The mechanisms behind the precise control of these growth cone guidance cues remain unclear. It is known that extracellular matrix glycosaminoglycans (ECM-GAGs) polymerize in developing eyefronts. The purpose of this study was to determine if keratan sulfate (KS), an ECM-GAG, may provide guidance cues to nerves during cornea innervation. Immunostaining using antineuron-specific-β-tubulin and monoclonal antibodies for KS was performed on embryonic chicken eyefronts from E9 to E14 and staining was visualized by fluorescence microscopy.

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