Disruption of laminin in the peripheral nervous system impedes nonmyelinating Schwann cell development and impairs nociceptive sensory function

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Abstract

The mechanisms controlling the differentiation of immature Schwann cells (SCs) into nonmyelinating SCs is not known. Laminins are extracellular matrix proteins critical for myelinating SC differentiation, but their roles in nonmyelinating SC development have not been established. Here, we show that the peripheral nerves of mutant mice with laminin-deficient SCs do not form Remak bundles, which consist of a single nonmyelinating SC interacting with multiple unmyelinated axons. These mutant nerves show aberrant L1 and neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) expression pattern during development. The homophilic and heterophilic interactions of N-CAM are also impaired in the mutant nerves. Other molecular markers for nonmyelinating SCs, including Egr-1, glial fibrillary acidic protein, and AN2/NG2, are all absent in adult mutant nerves. Analysis of expression of SC lineage markers demonstrates that nonmyelinating SCs do not develop in mutant nerves. Additionally, mutant mice are insensitive to heat stimuli and show a decreased number of C-fiber sensory neurons, indicating reduced nociceptive sensory function. These results show that laminin participates in nonmyelinating SC development and Remak bundle formation and suggest a possible role for laminin deficiency in peripheral sensory neuropathies. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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