The elaboration of myelin by Schwann cells is triggered by contact with appropriate peripheral axons. Among the most prominent features of this interaction is the activation and high-level expression of the genes encoding the major myelin proteins P0 and Myelin Basic Protein (MBP). Although the initial induction of these genes is thought to be dependent upon contact with axons, neither the inductive signal of the axon nor the receptor and associated second messenger system of the Schwann cell that transduces this signal has been identified. In this report, we demonstrate that expression of the P0 and MBP genes in rapidly myelinating Schwann cells is sharply reduced upon withdrawal of axons, but that this expression can be substantially restored by agents that raise the intracellular concentration of cyclic AMP. We further show that Schwann cell expression of a third gene, i.e. that encoding the Nerve Growth Factor receptor, is strongly activated by the withdrawal of axons, and that this activation is largely independent of cAMP.

This content is only available via PDF.