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Glia. 2008 Nov 1;56(14):1541-51. doi: 10.1002/glia.20767.

The molecular machinery of myelin gene transcription in Schwann cells.

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Department of Comparative Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine and Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.


During late fetal life, Schwann cells in the peripheral nerves singled out by the larger axons will transit through a promyelinating stage before exiting the cell cycle and initiating myelin formation. A network of extra- and intracellular signaling pathways, regulating a transcriptional program of cell differentiation, governs this progression of cellular changes, culminating in a highly differentiated cell. In this review, we focus on the roles of a number of transcription factors not only in myelination, during normal development, but also in demyelination, following nerve trauma. These factors include specification factors involved in early development of Schwann cells from neural crest (Sox10) as well as factors specifically required for transitions into the promyelinating and myelinating stages (Oct6/Scip and Krox20/Egr2). From this description, we can glean the first, still very incomplete, contours of a gene regulatory network that governs myelination and demyelination during development and regeneration.

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