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Glia. 2008 Nov 15;56(15):1637-47. doi: 10.1002/glia.20716.

E-cadherin expression in postnatal Schwann cells is regulated by the cAMP-dependent protein kinase a pathway.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey 07103, USA.


Expression of E-cadherin in the peripheral nervous system is a highly regulated process that appears postnatally in concert with the development of myelinating Schwann cell lineage. As a major component of autotypic junctions, E-cadherin plays an important role in maintaining the structural integrity of noncompact myelin regions. In vivo, the appearance of E-cadherin in postnatal Schwann cell is accompanied by the disappearance of N-cadherin, suggesting reciprocal regulation of the two cadherins during Schwann cell development. The molecular signal that regulates the cadherin switch in Schwann cell is unclear. Using a neuron-Schwann cell co-culture system, here we show that E-cadherin expression is induced by components on the axonal membrane. We also show that the axonal effect is mediated through cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (cAMP-PKA) activation in the Schwann cell: (1) inhibition of cAMP-PKA blocks axon-induced E-cadherin expression and (2) cAMP elevation in the Schwann cell is sufficient to induce E-cadherin expression. In addition, cAMP-dependent E-cadherin expression is promoted by contact between adjacent Schwann cell membranes, suggesting its role in autotypic junction formation during myelination. Furthermore, cAMP-induced E-cadherin expression is accompanied by suppression of N-cadherin expression. Therefore, we propose that axon-dependent activation of cAMP-PKA serves as a signal that promotes cadherin switch during postnatal development of Schwann cells.

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