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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51824. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051824. Epub 2012 Dec 14.

Intrinsic migratory properties of cultured Schwann cells based on single-cell migration assay.

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  • 1School of Laboratory Medicine and Life Science, Wenzhou Medical College, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China.


The migration of Schwann cells is critical for development of peripheral nervous system and is essential for regeneration and remyelination after nerve injury. Although several factors have been identified to regulate Schwann cell migration, intrinsic migratory properties of Schwann cells remain elusive. In this study, based on time-lapse imaging of single isolated Schwann cells, we examined the intrinsic migratory properties of Schwann cells and the molecular cytoskeletal machinery of soma translocation during migration. We found that cultured Schwann cells displayed three motile phenotypes, which could transform into each other spontaneously during their migration. Local disruption of F-actin polymerization at leading front by a Cytochalasin D or Latrunculin A gradient induced collapse of leading front, and then inhibited soma translocation. Moreover, in migrating Schwann cells, myosin II activity displayed a polarized distribution, with the leading process exhibiting higher expression than the soma and trailing process. Decreasing this front-to-rear difference of myosin II activity by frontal application of a ML-7 or BDM (myosin II inhibitors) gradient induced the collapse of leading front and reversed soma translocation, whereas, increasing this front-to-rear difference of myosin II activity by rear application of a ML-7 or BDM gradient or frontal application of a Caly (myosin II activator) gradient accelerated soma translocation. Taken together, these results suggest that during migration, Schwann cells display malleable motile phenotypes and the extension of leading front dependent on F-actin polymerization pulls soma forward translocation mediated by myosin II activity.

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