Specific labeling of synaptic schwann cells reveals unique cellular and molecular features

Elife. 2020 Jun 25;9:e56935. doi: 10.7554/eLife.56935.


Perisynaptic Schwann cells (PSCs) are specialized, non-myelinating, synaptic glia of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), that participate in synapse development, function, maintenance, and repair. The study of PSCs has relied on an anatomy-based approach, as the identities of cell-specific PSC molecular markers have remained elusive. This limited approach has precluded our ability to isolate and genetically manipulate PSCs in a cell specific manner. We have identified neuron-glia antigen 2 (NG2) as a unique molecular marker of S100β+ PSCs in skeletal muscle. NG2 is expressed in Schwann cells already associated with the NMJ, indicating that it is a marker of differentiated PSCs. Using a newly generated transgenic mouse in which PSCs are specifically labeled, we show that PSCs have a unique molecular signature that includes genes known to play critical roles in PSCs and synapses. These findings will serve as a springboard for revealing drivers of PSC differentiation and function.

Keywords: NMJ; astrocytes; automated perimetrycytes; cell biology; mouse; neuroscience; perisynaptic schwann cells; synaptic glia; terminal schwann cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology*
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism*
  • Schwann Cells / physiology*


  • Antigens
  • Biomarkers
  • Proteoglycans
  • chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE152774