Protective role of the lipid phosphatase Fig4 in the adult nervous system

Hum Mol Genet. 2018 Jul 15;27(14):2443-2453. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddy145.


The signaling lipid phosphatidylinositol 3,5-bisphosphate, PI(3,5)P2, functions in vesicular trafficking through the endo-lysosomal compartment. Cellular levels of PI(3,5)P2 are regulated by an enzyme complex comprised of the kinase PIKFYVE, the phosphatase FIG4, and the scaffold protein VAC14. Mutations of human FIG4 cause inherited disorders including Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 4J, polymicrogyria with epilepsy, and Yunis-Varón syndrome. Constitutive Fig4-/- mice exhibit intention tremor, spongiform degeneration of neural tissue, hypomyelination, and juvenile lethality. To determine whether PI(3,5)P2 is required in the adult, we generated Fig4flox/-; CAG-creER mice and carried out tamoxifen-induced gene ablation. Global ablation in adulthood leads to wasting, tremor, and motor impairment. Death follows within 2 months of tamoxifen treatment, demonstrating a life-long requirement for Fig4. Histological examinations of the sciatic nerve revealed profound Wallerian degeneration of myelinated fibers, but not C-fiber axons in Remak bundles. In optic nerve sections, myelinated fibers appear morphologically intact and carry compound action potentials at normal velocity and amplitude. However, when iKO mice are challenged with a chemical white matter lesion, repair of damaged CNS myelin is significantly delayed, demonstrating a novel role for Fig4 in remyelination. Thus, in the adult PNS Fig4 is required to protect myelinated axons from Wallerian degeneration. In the adult CNS, Fig4 is dispensable for fiber stability and nerve conduction, but is required for the timely repair of damaged white matter. The greater vulnerability of the PNS to Fig4 deficiency in the mouse is consistent with clinical observations in patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / pathology
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease / genetics*
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease / physiopathology
  • Cleidocranial Dysplasia / genetics
  • Cleidocranial Dysplasia / physiopathology
  • Ectodermal Dysplasia / genetics
  • Ectodermal Dysplasia / physiopathology
  • Flavoproteins / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Limb Deformities, Congenital / genetics
  • Limb Deformities, Congenital / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Micrognathism / genetics
  • Micrognathism / physiopathology
  • Mutation
  • Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Nervous System / pathology
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates / metabolism
  • Phosphoinositide Phosphatases / genetics*
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / genetics*
  • Polymicrogyria / genetics
  • Polymicrogyria / physiopathology
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiopathology


  • Flavoproteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates
  • phosphatidylinositol 3,5-diphosphate
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Pikfyve protein, mouse
  • FIG4 protein, human
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases
  • Fig4 protein, mouse
  • Phosphoinositide Phosphatases

Supplementary concepts

  • Yunis Varon syndrome