Subcortical cytoskeleton periodicity throughout the nervous system

Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 7;6:22741. doi: 10.1038/srep22741.


Superresolution fluorescence microscopy recently revealed a ~190 nm periodic cytoskeleton lattice consisting of actin, spectrin, and other proteins underneath the membrane of cultured hippocampal neurons. Whether the periodic cytoskeleton lattice is a structural feature of all neurons and how it is modified when axons are ensheathed by myelin forming glial cells is not known. Here, STED nanoscopy is used to demonstrate that this structure is a commonplace of virtually all neuron types in vitro. To check how the subcortical meshwork is modified during myelination, we studied sciatic nerve fibers from adult mice. Periodicity of both actin and spectrin was uncovered at the internodes, indicating no substantial differences between unmyelinated and myelinated axons. Remarkably, the actin/spectrin pattern was also detected in glial cells such as cultured oligodendrocyte precursor cells. Altogether our work shows that the periodic subcortical cytoskeletal meshwork is a fundamental characteristic of cells in the nervous system and is not a distinctive feature of neurons, as previously thought.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Axons / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Nervous System / chemistry*
  • Neuroglia / chemistry
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spectrin / analysis*


  • Actins
  • Spectrin