Signals that initiate myelination in the developing mammalian nervous system

Mol Neurobiol. 1997 Aug;15(1):83-100. doi: 10.1007/BF02740617.


The myelination of axons by oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system and Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system is essential for the establishment of saltatory conduction. In the absence or destruction of the myelin sheath, as seen in demyelinating diseases, impulse conduction is impeded resulting in severe sensory and motor deficits. Axon myelination is the culmination of a sequence of events that begins with the differentiation of glial cells and proceeds to the transcription and translation of myelin genes, the elaboration of a myelin sheath, and the recognition and ensheathment of axons. This review examines the regulatory mechanisms for each of these steps and compares and contrasts the role of the axon in initiating myelination in the central and peripheral nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Myelin Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Myelin Sheath / physiology*
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology*
  • Schwann Cells / cytology
  • Schwann Cells / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Myelin Proteins