On the molecular architecture of myelinated fibers

Histochem Cell Biol. 2000 Jan;113(1):1-18. doi: 10.1007/s004180050001.


Schwann cells and oligodendrocytes make the myelin sheaths of the PNS and CNS, respectively. Their myelin sheaths are structurally similar, consisting of multiple layers of specialized cell membrane that spiral around axons, but there are several differences. (1) CNS myelin has a "radial component" composed of a tight junction protein, claudin-11/oligodendrocyte-specific protein. (2) Schwann cells have a basal lamina and microvilli. (3) Although both CNS and PNS myelin sheaths have incisures, those in the CNS lack the structural as well as the molecular components of "reflexive" adherens junctions and gap junctions. In spite of their structural differences, the axonal membranes of the PNS and CNS are similarly organized. The nodal axolemma contains high concentrations of voltage-dependent sodium channels that are linked to the axonal cytoskeleton by ankyrin(G). The paranodal membrane contains Caspr/paranodin, which may participate in the formation of axoglial junctions. The juxtaparanodal axonal membrane contains the potassium channels Kv1.1 and Kv1.2, their associated beta2 subunit, as well as Caspr2, which is closely related to Caspr. The myelin sheath probably organizes these axonal membrane-related proteins via trans interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Central Nervous System / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Myelin Sheath / ultrastructure
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / metabolism
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / ultrastructure*
  • Peripheral Nervous System / ultrastructure