Internode length is reduced during myelination and remyelination by neurofilament medium phosphorylation in motor axons

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The distance between nodes of Ranvier, referred to as internode length, positively correlates with axon diameter, and is optimized during development to ensure maximal neuronal conduction velocity. Following myelin loss, internode length is reestablished through remyelination. However, remyelination results in short internode lengths and reduced conduction rates. We analyzed the potential role of neurofilament phosphorylation in regulating internode length during remyelination and myelination. Following ethidium bromide induced demyelination, levels of neurofilament medium (NF-M) and heavy (NF-H) phosphorylation were unaffected. Preventing NF-M lysine-serine-proline (KSP) repeat phosphorylation increased internode length by 30% after remyelination. To further analyze the role of NF-M phosphorylation in regulating internode length, gene replacement was used to produce mice in which all KSP serine residues were replaced with glutamate to mimic constitutive phosphorylation. Mimicking constitutive KSP phosphorylation reduced internode length by 16% during myelination and motor nerve conduction velocity by ˜27% without altering sensory nerve structure or function. Our results suggest that NF-M KSP phosphorylation is part of a cooperative mechanism between axons and Schwann cells that together determine internode length, and suggest motor and sensory axons utilize different mechanisms to establish internode length.HIGHLIGHTSAxonal NF-M remains phosphorylated after demyelination and through remyelination.NF-M phosphorylation is part of a cooperative mechanism that determines internode length.NF-M phosphorylation influences internode length establishment in motor but not in sensory axons.

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