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Nat Neurosci. 2007 Jul;10(7):861-9. Epub 2007 Jun 3.

A central role for Necl4 (SynCAM4) in Schwann cell-axon interaction and myelination.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology, The Weizmann Institute of Science, POB 26, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


Myelination in the peripheral nervous system requires close contact between Schwann cells and the axon, but the underlying molecular basis remains largely unknown. Here we show that cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) of the nectin-like (Necl, also known as SynCAM or Cadm) family mediate Schwann cell-axon interaction during myelination. Necl4 is the main Necl expressed by myelinating Schwann cells and is located along the internodes in direct apposition to Necl1, which is localized on axons. Necl4 serves as the glial binding partner for axonal Necl1, and the interaction between these two CAMs mediates Schwann cell adhesion. The disruption of the interaction between Necl1 and Necl4 by their soluble extracellular domains, or the expression of a dominant-negative Necl4 in Schwann cells, inhibits myelination. These results suggest that Necl proteins are important for mediating axon-glia contact during myelination in peripheral nerves.

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