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Science 304 (5671): 688-689

Copyright © 2004 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The Mysteries of Myelin Unwrapped

Charles ffrench-Constant, Holly Colognato, Robin J. M. Franklin

The axons of neurons are wrapped in myelin sheaths by glial cells, thus ensuring the rapid and accurate conduction of electrical impulses. It is well established that the size of the axon dictates the thickness of the myelin sheath, but the question is how. In their Perspective, ffrench-Constant et al. discuss an exciting new study (Michailov et al.) identifying neuregulin type III as the biochemical signal produced by axons that enables Schwann cells to produce myelin sheaths of the correct thickness.

The authors are in the Departments of Pathology and Medical Genetics, Veterinary Medicine, and Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, UK. E-mail: cfc{at}

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