Subtle roles of neural cell adhesion molecule and myelin-associated glycoprotein during schwann cell spiralling in P0-deficient mice

Stefano Carenini, Dirk Montag, Melitta Schachner, Rudolf Martini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


Peripheral nerves of P0-deficient mice display a severe dysmyelinating phenotype, confirming the view that P0 mediates myelin formation and compaction. In addition to the compromised myelin organization, an elevated expression of several cell recognition molecules was described in the axon-Schwann cell units of P0-deficient mice. The present study was performed to focus on the subcellular localization and functional roles of two of these up-regulated molecules, the neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) and the myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG). We show by postembedding immunoelectron microscopy that in peripheral nerves of P0-deficient mice both molecules are expressed in noncompacted myelin-like regions. In addition, N-CAM, but not MAG, is detected in partially compacted myelin. By the generation of P0/N-CAM- and P0/MAG-deficient double mutants, we investigated the roles of the dysregulated molecules in P0-deficient mice. In 4-week-old double mutants, the dysmyelinating phenotype of the axon-Schwann cell units was very similar to that seen in the P0-deficient single mutants, suggesting that neither N-CAM nor MAG are responsible for the poor myelin compaction in P0-deficient mice. However, the noncompacted turns surrounding the abnormally compacted regions were significantly reduced in number in P0/MAG mutants as compared to P0 or N-CAM/P0 mice. During formation of myelin sheaths, absence of N-CAM resulted in a transient retardation of Schwann cell spiralling in P0-deficient mice, whereas absence of MAG impaired Schwann cell spiralling for a more extended time period. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that MAG and also N-CAM can play significant roles during myelin formation in the peripheral nervous system. Because these functional roles are detectable only in the absence of P0, our results confirm the view that myelin-related molecules can play distinct, but also partially overlapping roles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-212
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


  • Adhesion molecules
  • Compensation
  • Mouse
  • Myelination
  • Peripheral nerve
  • Schwann cell

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