Helix-loop-helix Proteins in Schwann Cells: A Study of Regulation and Subcellular Localization of Ids, REB, and E12/47 During Embryonic and Postnatal Development

J Neurosci Res. 1997 Dec 1;50(5):684-701. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-4547(19971201)50:5<684::AID-JNR6>3.0.CO;2-D.


Although basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins play an important role in transcriptional control in many cell types, the role of HLH proteins in Schwann cells has yet to be assessed. In this study, we have analyzed the expression of the dominant negative HLH genes, Id1 to Id4 and the class A gene REB, during Schwann cell development. We found that mRNA derived from these genes was present in the Schwann cell lineage throughout development including embryonic precursors and mature cells. The mRNA levels were not significantly regulated during development. Nevertheless, by using antibodies against the four different Id proteins, we found clear regulation of some of these genes at the protein level, in particular Id 2, 4, and REB, both in amount and nuclear/cytoplasmic localization. All these proteins are found in the nuclei of Schwann cell precursors but are not seen in nuclei of Schwann cells of newborn nerves. We observed extensive overlap in Id expression, especially in Schwann cell precursors that co-expressed all four Id proteins and REB. We also showed that Id 1 and 2 were up-regulated as Schwann cells progressed through the cell cycle. These data indicate that HLH transcription factors act as regulators of Schwann cell development and point to the existence of as yet unidentified cell type-specific bHLH proteins in these cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Gestational Age
  • Helix-Loop-Helix Motifs*
  • Inhibitor of Differentiation Protein 1
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Plant Proteins*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Schwann Cells / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • ID1 protein, rat
  • Idb1 protein, mouse
  • Inhibitor of Differentiation Protein 1
  • Plant Proteins
  • REB protein, Oryza sativa
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors