Morphological evidence for a transport of ribosomes from Schwann cells to regenerating axons

Glia. 2011 Oct;59(10):1529-39. doi: 10.1002/glia.21196. Epub 2011 Jun 8.


Recently, we showed that Schwann cells transfer ribosomes to injured axons. Here, we demonstrate that Schwann cells transfer ribosomes to regenerating axons in vivo. For this, we used lentiviral vector-mediated expression of ribosomal protein L4 and eGFP to label ribosomes in Schwann cells. Two approaches were followed. First, we transduced Schwann cells in vivo in the distal trunk of the sciatic nerve after a nerve crush. Seven days after the crush, 12% of regenerating axons contained fluorescent ribosomes. Second, we transduced Schwann cells in vitro that were subsequently injected into an acellular nerve graft that was inserted into the sciatic nerve. Fluorescent ribosomes were detected in regenerating axons up to 8 weeks after graft insertion. Together, these data indicate that regenerating axons receive ribosomes from Schwann cells and, furthermore, that Schwann cells may support local axonal protein synthesis by transferring protein synthetic machinery and mRNAs to these axons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Axons / pathology
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Functional Laterality
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Nerve Crush / methods
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Neurofilament Proteins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Ribosomes / metabolism*
  • Ribosomes / ultrastructure
  • Schwann Cells / pathology
  • Schwann Cells / transplantation
  • Schwann Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Sciatic Neuropathy / etiology
  • Sciatic Neuropathy / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Transduction, Genetic / methods


  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins