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J Neurocytol. 1982 Oct;11(5):839-58.

Tight junction contact events and temporary gap junctions in the sciatic nerve fibres of the chicken during Wallerian degeneration and subsequent regeneration.


Tight and gap junctions are described on the basis of freeze-fractures in normal chicken sciatic nerves as well as during Wallerian degeneration and subsequent regeneration. 1. Small calibre nerve fibres display a fairly continuous tight junction contact zone in the membranes of the mesaxons, paranodal loops and Schmidt-Lanterman incisures. Large fibres with more than 40 lamellae have only focal tight junction contacts in the mesaxonal membranes. 2. With the onset of Wallerian degeneration (days 2-4 post-crush, distal stump) myelinic tight junctions become arranged as maculae composed of one circular or several polygonally oriented strands that are criss-crossed by other tight junctional strands. These maculae are subsequently found in the membranes of cytoplasmic vacuoles of the Schwann cells, indicating an endocytotic mode of uptake. Tight junctions are not found between the 5th and 6th day after crush. 3. During the proliferation phase of the Schwann cells and the arrangement of these cells into B├╝ngner cell bands (2 to 8 days post-crush) gap junctions appear between the Schwann cells of the bands. These junctions then disappear with the onset of remyelination (8 days post-crush). 4. With the onset of remyelination (from the 8th day onwards) short focal tight junctions appear in the membranes of the outer mesaxons. Shortly thereafter, when the sheaths possess 4 to 8 lamellae, tight junctions also appear in the membranes of the inner mesaxons, the paranodal loops and the cytoplasmic inclusions. The characteristic differences of tight junction elaboration in small versus large nerve fibres are re-established after three months of regeneration. The elaborated tight junctions in small and early remyelinating fibres point to a specific function; in small fibres (versus large fibres) the tight junctions might effect a separation of the intramyelinic extracellular space as a single compartment. The tight junction contacts in early remyelinating fibres support the hypothesis that myelin growth occurs within the myelin spiral and not by a free rotation and elongation of the Schwann cell tongues. It is assumed that the gap junctions between the Schwann cells contribute to the co-ordination of the Schwann cell band formation, which is involved in the guidance of sprouting axons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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