Donning the Myelin Sheath

Science's STKE  07 Nov 2006:
Vol. 2006, Issue 360, pp. tw380
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3602006tw380

The myelin sheath electrically insulates axons and makes the conductance of neuronal impulses much more efficient. Chan et al. examined how the Schwann cells begin myelination of an axon. In neuronal cultures, a cell polarity protein, Par-3, localized to where the Schwann cell meets the axon and promoted the recruitment of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-receptor to the junction between Schwann cell and neuron. BDNF-dependent signaling between axon and Schwann cell then ensures that myelination begins. This localized signaling arising from Par-3 polarity may help to ensure that the myelination begins at the right spot.

J. R. Chan, C. Jolicoeur, J. Yamauchi, J. Elliott, J. P. Fawcett, B. K. Ng, M. Cayouette, The polarity protein Par-3 directly interacts with p75NTR to regulate myelination. Science 314, 832-836 (2006). [Abstract] [Full Text]