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J Neurosci 2007 Jun 20;2725:6712-22. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1329-07.2007.
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Schwann cell-derived factors modulate synaptic activities at developing neuromuscular synapses.

Cao G , Ko CP .

Glial cells are active participants in the function, formation, and maintenance of the chemical synapse. To investigate the molecular basis of neuron-glia interactions at the peripheral synapse, we examined whether and how Schwann cell-derived factors modulate synaptic function at developing neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). Schwann cell-conditioned medium (SC-CM) from Xenopus Schwann cell cultures was collected and applied to Xenopus nerve-muscle cocultures. We found that SC-CM increased the frequency of spontaneous synaptic currents (SSCs) within 3-15 min by an average of approximately 150-fold at developing neuromuscular synapses. The increase in SSC frequency by SC-CM is a presynaptic effect independent of neuronal excitability and requires the influx of Ca2+. In contrast to its potentiating effect on spontaneous transmitter release, SC-CM suppressed the evoked transmitter release. The SC-CM effect required the presence of motoneuron soma but not protein synthesis. Using molecular weight cutoff filters and dialysis membranes, we found that the molecular weight of functional factor(s) in SC-CM was within 500 and 5000 Da. The SC-CM effect was not attributable to currently known factors that modulate synaptic efficacy, including neurotrophins, glutamate, and ATP. SC-CM also enhanced spontaneous synaptic release at developing NMJs in Xenopus tadpoles in situ. Our results suggest that Schwann cells release small molecules that enhance spontaneous synaptic activities acutely and potently at developing neuromuscular synapses, and the glial cell-enhanced spontaneous neurotransmission may contribute to synaptogenesis.

PubMed ID: 17581958
PMC ID: PMC6672697
Article link: J Neurosci
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Antibodies: Schwann Cell Ab1

References [+] :
Allen, Signaling between glia and neurons: focus on synaptic plasticity. 2005, Pubmed