Disposition of axonal caspr with respect to glial cell membranes: Implications for the process of myelination

J Neurosci Res. 2009 Nov 15;87(15):3480-91. doi: 10.1002/jnr.22004.


Neurofascin-155 (NF155) and caspr are transmembrane proteins found at discrete locations early during development of the nervous system. NF155 is present in the oligodendrocyte cell body and processes, whereas caspr is on the axonal surface. In mature nerves, these proteins are clustered at paranodes, flanking the node of Ranvier. To understand how NF155 and caspr become localized to the paranodal regions of myelinated nerves, we have studied their distribution over time in myelinating cultures. Our observations indicate that these two proteins are recruited to the cell surface at the contact zone between axons and oligodendrocytes, where they trans-interact. This association explains the early pattern of caspr distribution, a helical coil that winds around the axon, resembling the turns of the myelin sheath. Caspr, an axonal membrane protein, therefore seems to move in register with the overlying myelinating cell via its interactions with myelin proteins. We suggest that NF155 is the glial cell membrane protein responsible for caspr distribution. The pair act as interacting partners on either side of the axoglial contact area. Most likely, there are other proteins on the axonal surface whose distribution is equally influenced by interaction with the nascent myelin sheath. The fact that caspr follows the movement of the spiraling membrane has a direct affect on the interpretation of the way in which myelin is formed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / metabolism*
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / embryology*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism*
  • Intercellular Junctions / metabolism
  • Intercellular Junctions / ultrastructure
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism*
  • Myelin Sheath / ultrastructure
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / metabolism
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / ultrastructure
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / cytology
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / ultrastructure


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Cntnap1 protein, rat
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nfasc protein, rat