Lentivirus-Mediated RNA Interference Targeting RhoA Slacks the Migration, Proliferation, and Myelin Formation of Schwann Cells

Mol Neurobiol. 2017 Mar;54(2):1229-1239. doi: 10.1007/s12035-016-9733-5. Epub 2016 Jan 28.


RhoA, a member of Rho GTPases family, is known to play an important role in remodeling actin cytoskeleton. During the development of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), Schwann cells undergo proliferation, migration, and radial sorting and finally wrap the related axons compactly to form myelin sheath. All these processes involve actin cytoskeletal remodeling. However, the role of RhoA on Schwann cell during development is still unclear. To address this question, we first used a lentiviral vector-mediated short hairpin (sh) RNA targeting RhoA to knock down the expression of RhoA in the cultured Schwann cells in vitro. Effects of RhoA on Schwann cell proliferation and migration were examined by BrdU assay and transwell assay, respectively. Results of the present study indicated that downregulated RhoA expression in cultured Schwann cells significantly slacked the cells' capabilities of migration and proliferation. Then, we investigated the role of RhoA in the developing rat sciatic nerves. Immunohistology and Western blotting showed that RhoA was mainly expressed in Schwann cells in the sciatic nerves and was peaked at 2 weeks postnatal then kept in low level up to 8 weeks. In the subjected rats whose sciatic nerves were microinjected with lentiviral vectors at postnatal 3 days, we found that the lentiviruses mainly transfected Schwann cells, and the RhoA expression in the transfected Schwann cells was significantly knocked down. Four weeks after lentivirus microinjection, immunohistology and transmission electron microscopy illustrated that RhoA knockdown resulted in hypomyelination and significant decrease of the thickness of myelin in the transfected area. Overall data of current study suggested that RhoA plays a critical role in Schwann cell biology and is essential for myelination in developing peripheral nerve.

Keywords: Migration; Myelination; Peripheral nerve; Proliferation; RhoA; Schwann cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques / methods
  • Gene Targeting / methods
  • Lentivirus / genetics
  • Myelin Sheath / physiology*
  • RNA Interference / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Schwann Cells / physiology*
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / deficiency*
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics


  • RhoA protein, rat
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins