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IUBMB Life. 2011 Sep;63(9):730-5. doi: 10.1002/iub.513. Epub 2011 Jul 26.

Axons and myelinating glia: An intimate contact.

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Department of Basic Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Institute of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology-FoRTH, Heraklion, Greece.


The coordination of the vertebrate nervous system requires high velocity signal transmission between different brain areas. High speed nerve conduction is achieved in the myelinated fibers of both the central and the peripheral nervous system where the myelin sheath acts as an insulator of the axon. The interactions between the glial cell and the adjacent axon, namely axo-glial interactions, segregate the fiber in distinct molecular and functional domains that ensure the rapid propagation of action potentials. These domains are the node of Ranvier, the paranode, the juxtaparanode and the internode and are characterized by multiprotein complexes between voltage-gated ion channels, cell adhesion molecules, members of the Neurexin family and cytoskeletal proteins. In the present review, we outline recent evidence on the key players of axo-glial interactions, depicting their importance in myelinated fiber physiology and disease.

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