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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Schwann cell myelination requires Dynein function

Melissa M Langworthy and Bruce Appel*

Author Affiliations

Departments of Pediatrics and Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, MS 8108, Aurora, CO, 80045, USA

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Neural Development 2012, 7:37  doi:10.1186/1749-8104-7-37

Published: 20 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Interaction of Schwann cells with axons triggers signal transduction that drives expression of Pou3f1 and Egr2 transcription factors, which in turn promote myelination. Signal transduction appears to be mediated, at least in part, by cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) because elevation of cAMP levels can stimulate myelination in the absence of axon contact. The mechanisms by which the myelinating signal is conveyed remain unclear.

Results

By analyzing mutations that disrupt myelination in zebrafish, we learned that Dynein cytoplasmic 1 heavy chain 1 (Dync1h1), which functions as a motor for intracellular molecular trafficking, is required for peripheral myelination. In dync1h1 mutants, Schwann cell progenitors migrated to peripheral nerves but then failed to express Pou3f1 and Egr2 or make myelin membrane. Genetic mosaic experiments revealed that robust Myelin Basic Protein expression required Dync1h1 function within both Schwann cells and axons. Finally, treatment of dync1h1 mutants with a drug to elevate cAMP levels stimulated myelin gene expression.

Conclusion

Dync1h1 is required for retrograde transport in axons and mutations of Dync1h1 have been implicated in axon disease. Our data now provide evidence that Dync1h1 is also required for efficient myelination of peripheral axons by Schwann cells, perhaps by facilitating signal transduction necessary for myelination.

Keywords:
Glia; Peripheral nerve; Dync1h1; Zebrafish; Myelin