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Dev Biol. 2002 Jun 15;246(2):245-58.

Membrane-bound neuregulin1 type III actively promotes Schwann cell differentiation of multipotent Progenitor cells.

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Institute of Cell Biology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland.


Many steps of peripheral glia development appear to be regulated by neuregulin1 (NRG1) signaling but the exact roles of the different NRG1 isoforms in these processes remain to be determined. While glial growth factor 2 (GGF2), a NRG1 type II isoform, is able to induce a satellite glial fate in neural crest stem cells, targeted mutations in mice have revealed a prominent role of NRG1 type III isoforms in supporting survival of Schwann cells at early developmental stages. Here, we investigated the role of NRG1 isoforms in the differentiation of Schwann cells from neural crest-derived progenitor cells. In multipotent cells isolated from dorsal root ganglia, soluble NRG1 isoforms do not promote Schwann cell features, whereas signaling by membrane-associated NRG1 type III induces the expression of the Schwann cell markers Oct-6/SCIP and S100 in neighboring cells, independent of survival. Thus, axon-bound NRG1 might actively promote both Schwann cell survival and differentiation.

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