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Neurodevelopmental Changes in Excitatory Synaptic Structure and Function in the Cerebral Cortex of Sanfilippo Syndrome IIIA Mice.

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Sanfilippo syndrome, MPS IIIA-D, results from deficits in lysosomal enzymes that specifically degrade heparan sulfate, a sulfated glycosaminoglycan. The accumulation of heparan sulfate results in neurological symptoms, culminating in extensive neurodegeneration and early death. To study the impact of storage in postnatal neurodevelopment, we examined murine models of MPS IIIA, which lack the enzyme sulfamidase. We show that changes occur in excitatory postsynaptic structure and function in the somatosensory cortex prior to signs of neurodegeneration. These changes coincide with accumulation of heparan sulfate with characteristic non-reducing ends, which is present at birth in the mutant mice. Accumulation of heparan sulfate was also detected in primary cultures of cortical neural cells, especially astrocytes. Accumulation of heparan sulfate in cultured astrocytes corresponded with augmented extracellular heparan sulfate and glypican 4 levels. Heparan sulfate from the cerebral cortex of MPS IIIA mice showed enhanced ability to increase glutamate AMPA receptor subunits at the cell surface of wild type neurons. These data support the idea that abnormalities in heparan sulfate content and distribution contribute to alterations in postsynaptic function. Our findings identify a disease-induced developmental phenotype that temporally overlaps with the onset of behavioral changes in a mouse model of MPS IIIA.

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