MTORC1 promotes proliferation of immature Schwann cells and myelin growth of differentiated Schwann cells.
ABSTRACT: The myelination of axons in peripheral nerves requires precisely coordinated proliferation and differentiation of Schwann cells (SCs). We found that the activity of the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), a key signaling hub for the regulation of cellular growth and proliferation, is progressively extinguished as SCs differentiate during nerve development. To study the effects of different levels of sustained mTORC1 hyperactivity in the SC lineage, we disrupted negative regulators of mTORC1, including TSC2 or TSC1, in developing SCs of mutant mice. Surprisingly, the phenotypes ranged from arrested myelination in nerve development to focal hypermyelination in adulthood, depending on the level and timing of mTORC1 hyperactivity. For example, mice lacking TSC2 in developing SCs displayed hyperproliferation of undifferentiated SCs incompatible with normal myelination. However, these defects and myelination could be rescued by pharmacological mTORC1 inhibition. The subsequent reconstitution of SC mTORC1 hyperactivity in adult animals resulted in focal hypermyelination. Together our data suggest a model in which high mTORC1 activity promotes proliferation of immature SCs and antagonizes SC differentiation during nerve development. Down-regulation of mTORC1 activity is required for terminal SC differentiation and subsequent initiation of myelination. In distinction to this developmental role, excessive SC mTORC1 activity stimulates myelin growth, even overgrowth, in adulthood. Thus, our work delineates two distinct functions of mTORC1 in the SC lineage essential for proper nerve development and myelination. Moreover, our studies show that SCs retain their plasticity to myelinate and remodel myelin via mTORC1 throughout life.
Project description:Myelination is a biosynthetically demanding process in which mTORC1, the gatekeeper of anabolism, occupies a privileged regulatory position. We have shown previously that loss of mTORC1 function in Schwann cells (SCs) hampers myelination. Here, we genetically disrupted key inhibitory components upstream of mTORC1, TSC1 or PTEN, in mouse SC development, adult homeostasis, and nerve injury. Surprisingly, the resulting mTORC1 hyperactivity led to markedly delayed onset of both developmental myelination and remyelination after injury. However, if mTORC1 was hyperactivated after myelination onset, radial hypermyelination was observed. At early developmental stages, physiologically high PI3K-Akt-mTORC1 signaling suppresses expression of Krox20 (Egr2), the master regulator of PNS myelination. This effect is mediated by S6K and contributes to control mechanisms that keep SCs in a not-fully differentiated state to ensure proper timing of myelination initiation. An ensuing decline in mTORC1 activity is crucial to allow myelination to start, while remaining mTORC1 activity drives myelin growth.
Project description:Myelin plays a crucial role in axon function recovery following nerve damage, and the interaction between Schwann cells (SCs) and regenerating axons profoundly affects myelin formation. Eph receptor A4 (EphA4), a member of the Eph tyrosine kinase receptor family, regulates cell-cell interactions via its ligand ephrins. However, our current knowledge on how EphA4 regulates the formation of myelin sheaths remains limited. In order to explore the roles of EphA4 in myelination in the peripheral nervous system, we used a combination of (1) a co-culture model of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) explants and SCs, (2) a SC differentiation model induced by db-cAMP, and (3) a regeneration model of crushed sciatic nerves in rats. Our results demonstrated that EphA4 inhibited myelination by inhibiting SC differentiation and facilitating SC proliferation in vitro. The in vivo experiments revealed that EphA4 expression in SCs is upregulated following nerve crush injury and then downregulated during remyelination. Moreover, silencing of EphA4 by siRNA or overexpression of EphA4 by genetic manipulation can accelerate or slow down nerve remyelination in crushed sciatic nerves. Taken together, our results suggest that EphA4 may negatively regulate myelination by abrogating SC differentiation.
Project description:We used peripheral nerve allografts, already employed clinically to reconstruct devastating peripheral nerve injuries, to study Schwann cell (SC) plasticity in adult mice. By modulating the allograft treatment modality we were able to study migratory, denervated, rejecting, and reinnervated phenotypes in transgenic mice whose SCs expressed GFP under regulatory elements of either the S100b (S100-GFP) or nestin (Nestin-GFP) promoters. Well-differentiated SCs strongly expressed S100-GFP, while Nestin-GFP expression was stimulated by denervation, and in some cases, axons were constitutively labeled with CFP to enable in vivo imaging. Serial imaging of these mice demonstrated that untreated allografts were rejected within 20 days. Cold preserved (CP) allografts required an initial phase of SC migration that preceded axonal regeneration thus delaying myelination and maturation of the SC phenotype. Mice immunosuppressed with FK506 demonstrated mild subacute rejection, but the most robust regeneration of myelinated and unmyelinated axons and motor endplate reinnervation. While characterized by fewer regenerating axons, mice treated with the co-stimulatory blockade (CSB) agents anti-CD40L mAb and CTLAIg-4 demonstrated virtually no graft rejection during the 28 day experiment, and had significant increases in myelination, connexin-32 expression, and Akt phosphorylation compared with any other group. These results indicate that even with SC rejection, nerve regeneration can occur to some degree, particularly with FK506 treatment. However, we found that co-stimulatory blockade facilitate optimal myelin formation and maturation of SCs as indicated by protein expression of myelin basic protein (MBP), connexin-32 and phospho-Akt.
Project description:Previously we showed that YAP/TAZ promote not only proliferation but also differentiation of immature Schwann cells (SCs), thereby forming and maintaining the myelin sheath around peripheral axons (Grove et al., 2017). Here we show that YAP/TAZ are required for mature SCs to restore peripheral myelination, but not to proliferate, after nerve injury. We find that YAP/TAZ dramatically disappear from SCs of adult mice concurrent with axon degeneration after nerve injury. They reappear in SCs only if axons regenerate. YAP/TAZ ablation does not impair SC proliferation or transdifferentiation into growth promoting repair SCs. SCs lacking YAP/TAZ, however, fail to upregulate myelin-associated genes and completely fail to remyelinate regenerated axons. We also show that both YAP and TAZ are redundantly required for optimal remyelination. These findings suggest that axons regulate transcriptional activity of YAP/TAZ in adult SCs and that YAP/TAZ are essential for functional regeneration of peripheral nerve.
Project description:Signaling through cyclic AMP (cAMP) has been implicated in the regulation of Schwann cell (SC) proliferation and differentiation. In quiescent SCs, elevation of cAMP promotes the expression of proteins associated with myelination such as Krox-20 and P0, and downregulation of markers associated with the non-myelinating SC phenotype. We have previously shown that the motor protein myosin II is required for the establishment of normal SC-axon interactions, differentiation and myelination, however, the mechanisms behind these effects are unknown. Here we report that the levels and activity of myosin light chain kinase (MLCK), an enzyme that regulates MLC phosphorylation in non-muscle cells, are dramatically downregulated in SCs after cAMP treatment, in a similar pattern to that of c-Jun, a known inhibitor of myelination. Knockdown of MLCK in SCs mimics the effect of cAMP elevation, inducing plasma membrane expansion and expression of Krox-20 and myelin proteins. Despite activation of myelin gene transcription these cells fail to make compact myelin when placed in contact with axons. Our data indicate that myosin II activity is differentially regulated at various stages during myelination and that in the absence of MLCK the processes of SC differentiation and compact myelin assembly are uncoupled.
Project description:This study was undertaken to examine the bioactivity, specificity, and reversibility of lithium's action on the growth, survival, proliferation, and differentiation of cultured Schwann cells (SCs). In isolated SCs, lithium promoted a state of cell cycle arrest that featured extensive cell enlargement and c-Jun downregulation in the absence of increased expression of myelin-associated markers. In addition, lithium effectively prevented mitogen-induced S-phase entry without impairing cell viability. When lithium was administered together with differentiating concentrations of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) analogs, a dramatic inhibition of the expression of the master regulator of myelination Krox-20 was observed. Likewise, lithium antagonized the cAMP-dependent expression of various myelin markers such as protein zero, periaxin, and galactocerebroside and allowed SCs to maintain high levels of expression of immature SC markers even in the presence of high levels of cAMP and low levels of c-Jun. Most importantly, the inhibitory action of lithium on SC proliferation and differentiation was shown to be dose dependent, specific, and reversible upon removal of lithium compounds. In SC-neuron cultures, lithium suppressed myelin sheath formation while preserving axonal integrity, SC-axon contact, and basal lamina formation. Lithium was unique in its ability to prevent the onset of myelination without promoting myelin degradation or SC dedifferentiation. To conclude, our results underscored an unexpected antagonistic action of lithium on SC mitogenesis and myelin gene expression. We suggest that lithium represents an attractive pharmacological agent to safely and reversibly suppress the onset of SC proliferation, differentiation, and myelination while maintaining the integrity of pre-existing myelinated fibers.
Project description:Isolated Schwann cells (SCs) respond to cAMP elevation by adopting a differentiated post-mitotic state that exhibits high levels of Krox-20, a transcriptional enhancer of myelination, and mature SC markers such as the myelin lipid galactocerebroside (O1). To address how cAMP controls myelination, we performed a series of cell culture experiments which compared the differentiating responses of isolated and axon-related SCs to cAMP analogs and ascorbate, a known inducer of axon ensheathment, basal lamina formation and myelination. In axon-related SCs, cAMP induced the expression of Krox-20 and O1 without a concomitant increase in the expression of myelin basic protein (MBP) and without promoting axon ensheathment, collagen synthesis or basal lamina assembly. When cAMP was provided together with ascorbate, a dramatic enhancement of MBP expression occurred, indicating that cAMP primes SCs to form myelin only under conditions supportive of basal lamina formation. Experiments using a combination of cell permeable cAMP analogs and type-selective adenylyl cyclase (AC) agonists and antagonists revealed that selective transmembrane AC (tmAC) activation with forskolin was not sufficient for full SC differentiation and that the attainment of an O1 positive state also relied on the activity of the soluble AC (sAC), a bicarbonate sensor that is insensitive to forskolin and GPCR activation. Pharmacological and immunological evidence indicated that SCs expressed sAC and that sAC activity was required for morphological differentiation and the expression of myelin markers such as O1 and protein zero. To conclude, our data indicates that cAMP did not directly drive myelination but rather the transition into an O1 positive state, which is perhaps the most critical cAMP-dependent rate limiting step for the onset of myelination. The temporally restricted role of cAMP in inducing differentiation independently of basal lamina formation provides a clear example of the uncoupling of signals controlling differentiation and myelination in SCs.
Project description:The formation of myelin by Schwann cells (SCs) occurs via a series of orchestrated molecular events. We previously used global expression profiling to examine peripheral nerve myelination and identified the NAD(+)-dependent deacetylase Sir-two-homolog 2 (Sirt2) as a protein likely to be involved in myelination. Here, we show that Sirt2 expression in SCs is correlated with that of structural myelin components during both developmental myelination and remyelination after nerve injury. Transgenic mice lacking or overexpressing Sirt2 specifically in SCs show delays in myelin formation. In SCs, we found that Sirt2 deacetylates Par-3, a master regulator of cell polarity. The deacetylation of Par-3 by Sirt2 decreases the activity of the polarity complex signaling component aPKC, thereby regulating myelin formation. These results demonstrate that Sirt2 controls an essential polarity pathway in SCs during myelin assembly and provide insights into the association between intracellular metabolism and SC plasticity.
Project description:While abnormalities in myelin in tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) have been known for some time, recent imaging-based data suggest myelin abnormalities may be independent of the pathognomonic cortical lesions ("tubers"). Multiple mouse models of TSC exhibit myelination deficits, though the cell types responsible and the mechanisms underlying the myelin abnormalities remain unclear.To determine the role of alterations in mTOR signaling in myelination, we generated a conditional knockout (CKO) mouse model using Cre-recombinase and the Olig2 promoter to inactivate the Tsc2 gene in oligodendrocyte precursor cells.Characterization of myelin and myelin constituent proteins demonstrated a marked hypomyelination phenotype. Diffusion-based magnetic resonance imaging studies were likewise consistent with hypomyelination. Hypomyelination was due in part to decreased myelinated axon density and myelin thickness as well as decreased oligodendrocyte numbers. Coincident with hypomyelination, an extensive gliosis was seen in both the cortex and white matter tracks, suggesting alterations in cell fate due to changes in mTOR activity in oligodendrocyte precursors. Despite a high-frequency appendicular tremor and altered gait in CKO mice, no significant changes in activity, vocalizations, or anxiety-like phenotypes were seen.Our findings support a known role of mTOR signaling in regulation of myelination and demonstrate that increased mTORC1 activity early in development within oligodendrocytes results in hypomyelination and not hypermyelination. Our data further support a dissociation between decreased Akt activity and increased mTORC1 activity toward hypomyelination. Thus, therapies promoting activation of Akt-dependent pathways while reducing mTORC1 activity may prove beneficial in treatment of human disease.
Project description:Our ultimate goal of in vitro derivation of Schwann cells (SCs) from adult bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) is such that they may be used autologously to assist post-traumatic nerve regeneration. Existing protocols for derivation of SC-like cells from BMSCs fall short in the stability of the acquired phenotype and the functional capacity to myelinate axons. Our experiments indicated that neuro-ectodermal progenitor cells among the human hBMSCs could be selectively expanded and then induced to differentiate into SC-like cells. Co-culture of the SC-like cells with embryonic dorsal root ganglion neurons facilitated contact-mediated signaling that accomplished the switch to fate-committed SCs. Microarray analysis and in vitro myelination provided evidence that the human BMSC-derived SCs were functionally mature. This was reinforced by repair and myelination phenotypes observable in vivo with the derived SCs seeded into a nerve guide as an implant across a critical gap in a rat model of sciatic nerve injury.