A glial signal consisting of gliomedin and NrCAM clusters axonal Na+ channels during the formation of nodes of Ranvier

Neuron. 2010 Feb 25;65(4):490-502. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.02.004.


Saltatory conduction requires high-density accumulation of Na(+) channels at the nodes of Ranvier. Nodal Na(+) channel clustering in the peripheral nervous system is regulated by myelinating Schwann cells through unknown mechanisms. During development, Na(+) channels are first clustered at heminodes that border each myelin segment, and later in the mature nodes that are formed by the fusion of two heminodes. Here, we show that initial clustering of Na(+) channels at heminodes requires glial NrCAM and gliomedin, as well as their axonal receptor neurofascin 186 (NF186). We further demonstrate that heminodal clustering coincides with a second, paranodal junction (PNJ)-dependent mechanism that allows Na(+) channels to accumulate at mature nodes by restricting their distribution between two growing myelin internodes. We propose that Schwann cells assemble the nodes of Ranvier by capturing Na(+) channels at heminodes and by constraining their distribution to the nodal gap. Together, these two cooperating mechanisms ensure fast and efficient conduction in myelinated nerves.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electrophysiology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / metabolism
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Neural Conduction
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Ranvier's Nodes / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Schwann Cells / metabolism*
  • Sodium Channels / metabolism*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nfasc protein, mouse
  • Nrcam protein, mouse
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sodium Channels
  • gliomedin protein, mouse