Accumulating evidence indicates the importance of astrocytes in neuronal development and regeneration. While glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is believed to mediate the morphology of developing astrocytes, its precise function remains unknown. To analyse the function of GFAP in astrocytes, we established GFAP-expressing cell lines by transfection of mouse GFAP cDNA into mouse fibroblast L cells. Stable transfectants expressed GFAP uniformly in the cytoplasm with no phenotypic changes and exhibited extended processes rich in GFAP. GFAP-expressing cells significantly promoted the neurite outgrowth of rat cerebral cortex neurones in the co-culture system. Analysis of the products of GFAP-expressing cells revealed an increase in production of laminin, but not fibronectin. These results suggest that L cells expressing GFAP increase laminin production, leading to promotion of neurite outgrowth.
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