The effect of a permanent transection on myelin gene expression in a regenerating sciatic nerve and in an adult sciatic nerve was compared to establish the degree of axonal control exerted upon Schwann cells in each population. First, the adult sciatic nerve was crushed, and the distal segment allowed to regenerate. At 12 days post‐crush, the sciatic nerve was transected distal to the site of crush to disrupt the Schwann cell‐axonal contacts that had reformed. Messenger RNA (mRNA) levels coding for five myelin proteins were assayed in the distal segment of the crush‐transected nerve after 9 days and were compared to corresponding levels in the distal segments of sciatic nerves at 21 days post‐crush and 21 days post‐transection using Northern blot and slot‐blot analysis. Levels of mRNAs found in the distal segment of the transected and crush‐transected nerve suggested that Schwann cells in the regenerating nerve and in the mature adult nerve are equally responsive to axonal influences. The crush‐transected model allowed the genes that were studied to be classified according to their response to Schwann cell‐axonal contact. The levels of mRNAs were (1) down‐regulated to basal levels (PO and MBP mRNAs), (2) down‐regulated to undetectable levels (myelin‐associated glycoprotein mRNAs), (3) upregulated (mRNAs encoding 2′3′‐cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase and β‐actin), or (4) not stringently controlled by the removal of Schwann cell‐axonal contact (proteolipid protein mRNAs). This novel experimental model has thus provided evidence that the expression of some of the important myelin genes during peripheral nerve regeneration is dependent on continuous signals from the ingrowing axons. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
- Schwann cell
- gene expression
- mRNA levels
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience