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J Neurosci. 2006 May 10;26(19):5230-9.

Spectrins and ankyrinB constitute a specialized paranodal cytoskeleton.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030, USA.


Paranodal junctions of myelinated nerve fibers are important for saltatory conduction and function as paracellular and membrane protein diffusion barriers flanking nodes of Ranvier. The formation of these specialized axoglial contacts depends on the presence of three cell adhesion molecules: neurofascin 155 on the glial membrane and a complex of Caspr and contactin on the axon. We isolated axonal and glial membranes highly enriched in these paranodal proteins and then used mass spectrometry to identify additional proteins associated with the paranodal axoglial junction. This strategy led to the identification of three novel components of the paranodal cytoskeleton: ankyrinB, alphaII spectrin, and betaII spectrin. Biochemical and immunohistochemical analyses revealed that these proteins associate with protein 4.1B in a macromolecular complex that is concentrated at central and peripheral paranodal junctions in the adult and during early myelination. Furthermore, we show that the paranodal localization of ankyrinB is disrupted in Caspr-null mice with aberrant paranodal junctions, demonstrating that paranodal neuron-glia interactions regulate the organization of the underlying cytoskeleton. In contrast, genetic disruption of the juxtaparanodal protein Caspr2 or the nodal cytoskeletal protein betaIV spectrin did not alter the paranodal cytoskeleton. Our results demonstrate that the paranodal junction contains specialized cytoskeletal components that may be important to stabilize axon-glia interactions and contribute to the membrane protein diffusion barrier found at paranodes.

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