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J Neurosci 2001 Dec 15;2124:9572-84. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.21-24-09572.2001.
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Schwann cells express active agrin and enhance aggregation of acetylcholine receptors on muscle fibers.

Yang JF , Cao G , Koirala S , Reddy LV , Ko CP .

To explore novel roles of glial cells in synaptic function and formation, we examined the expression of agrin in frog Schwann cells and tested their role in the aggregation of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs). Using reverse transcription-PCR, we found that Schwann cells along nerve fibers in tadpoles expressed only the inactive agrin isoform B0 but began to also express active agrin isoforms B11 and B19 at approximately metamorphosis. During nerve regeneration in the adult, the expression of these active agrin isoforms in Schwann cells was upregulated, including the appearance of the most potent isoform, B8. This upregulation was induced by regenerating axons but not by nerve injury per se. In muscle cultures, the presence of adult Schwann cells enhanced the number and the total area of AChR aggregates 2.2- and 4.5-fold, respectively, and this enhancement was eliminated by heparin treatment. Furthermore, adult Schwann cells in culture expressed active agrin isoforms and produced agrin protein. Using a novel technique to selectively ablate perisynaptic Schwann cells (PSCs) at the neuromuscular junction, we found that PSCs also expressed active agrin isoforms B11 and B19, and these active isoforms were upregulated, including the appearance of B8, during reinnervation. Observation in vivo showed that extrajunctional AChR aggregates were associated with PSC sprouts after nerve injury and subsequent reinnervation. These results suggest that, contrary to the prevailing view that only neurons express active agrin, glial cells also express active agrin and play a role in the aggregation of AChRs both in vitro and in vivo.

PubMed ID: 11739568
PMC ID: PMC6763019
Article link: J Neurosci
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Antibodies: Schwann Cell Ab1

References [+] :
Araque, Tripartite synapses: glia, the unacknowledged partner. 1999, Pubmed