Neurofascins are required to establish axonal domains for saltatory conduction.
Sherman DL., Tait S., Melrose S., Johnson R., Zonta B., Court FA., Macklin WB., Meek S., Smith AJH., Cottrell DF., Brophy PJ.
Voltage-gated sodium channels are concentrated in myelinated nerves at the nodes of Ranvier flanked by paranodal axoglial junctions. Establishment of these essential nodal and paranodal domains is determined by myelin-forming glia, but the mechanisms are not clear. Here, we show that two isoforms of Neurofascin, Nfasc155 in glia and Nfasc186 in neurons, are required for the assembly of these specialized domains. In Neurofascin-null mice, neither paranodal adhesion junctions nor nodal complexes are formed. Transgenic expression of Nfasc155 in the myelinating glia of Nfasc-/- nerves rescues the axoglial adhesion complex by recruiting the axonal proteins Caspr and Contactin to the paranodes. However, in the absence of Nfasc186, sodium channels remain diffusely distributed along the axon. Our study shows that the two major Neurofascins play essential roles in assembling the nodal and paranodal domains of myelinated axons; therefore, they are essential for the transition to saltatory conduction in developing vertebrate nerves.