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J Neurochem. 1999 Nov;73(5):1816-27.

Growth arrest and spontaneous differentiation are initiated through an autocrine loop in clonally derived Schwann cells by alpha1-procollagen I C-propeptide.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, England.


Schwann cells cloned from rat sciatic nerve survive and display self-induced growth suppression, or undergo spontaneous apoptosis, on long-term serum-free subconfluent culture. Strain SCL4.1/F7 sustained the capacity to growth arrest for up to 40 generations. A soluble activity transmitted between neighbouring cells of this strain suppresses DNA synthesis within three cell cycles. Autocrine Schwann cell growth-inhibitory factor (SGIF) operates during the G1 phase of the cell cycle, overcomes the mitogenic action of Schwann cell/serum-associated (platelet-derived growth factor-BB) and axon-associated (axolemma-enriched fraction) stimuli in serum-free conditions, and suppresses DNA synthesis in sciatic nerve Schwann cell cultures in a stage-specific manner. A 35-kDa protein with N-terminal sequence and approximate molecular mass of the C-propeptide of rat alpha1-procollagen I makes a major contribution to SGIF. Growth suppression in the SCL4.1/F7 strain is mediated by the ras/extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway, is accompanied by down-regulation of erbB2/erbB3 and of tetraethylammonium-sensitive K+ currents, and is followed by transition of cells within 5-10 days from O4+, p75 nerve growth factor receptor (p75NGF-R)+, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)+ to O4+, p75NGF-R-, GFAP-, periaxin+ phenotypes. Oct-6/SCIP mRNA is present in both proliferating and growth-arrested SCL4.1/F7 cells. These results demonstrate an autocrine/ paracrine loop for the growth arrest of clonally derived Schwann cells in the absence of axons linked in part to the metabolism of collagen. Schwann cells thus appear to self-regulate growth in a negative as well as a positive direction through characterized molecular mechanisms and signal pathways.

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