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J Cell Sci. 2012 Oct 1;125(Pt 19):4609-19. doi: 10.1242/jcs.107995. Epub 2012 Jul 5.

Schwann cell myelination requires integration of laminin activities.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Laminins promote early stages of peripheral nerve myelination by assembling basement membranes (BMs) on Schwann cell surfaces, leading to activation of β1 integrins and other receptors. The BM composition, structural bonds and ligands needed to mediate this process, however, are not well understood. Mice hypomorphic for laminin γ1-subunit expression that assembled endoneurial BMs with reduced component density exhibited an axonal sorting defect with amyelination but normal Schwann cell proliferation, the latter unlike the null. To identify the basis for this, and to dissect participating laminin interactions, LAMC1 gene-inactivated dorsal root ganglia were treated with recombinant laminin-211 and -111 lacking different architecture-forming and receptor-binding activities, to induce myelination. Myelin-wrapping of axons by Schwann cells was found to require higher laminin concentrations than either proliferation or axonal ensheathment. Laminins that were unable to polymerize through deletions that removed critical N-terminal (LN) domains, or that lacked cell-adhesive globular (LG) domains, caused reduced BMs and almost no myelination. Laminins engineered to bind weakly to α6β1 and/or α7β1 integrins through their LG domains, even though they could effectively assemble BMs, decreased myelination. Proliferation depended upon both integrin binding to LG domains and polymerization. Collectively these findings reveal that laminins integrate scaffold-forming and cell-adhesion activities to assemble an endoneurial BM, with myelination and proliferation requiring additional α6β1/α7β1-laminin LG domain interactions, and that a high BM ligand/structural density is needed for efficient myelination.

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