Factors influencing the release of proteins by cultured schwann cells


Cultured rat schwann cells grown in association with sensory neurons when labeled with [(3)H]leucinem, [(3)H]glucosamine, or [(35)S]methionine release labeled polypeptides into the culture medium. Analysis by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) of the culture medium reveals a reproducible pattern of more than 20 polypeptides with molecular weights ranging from 15,000 to more than 250,000. Five major polypeptides (apparent molecular weights 225,000, 210,000, 90,000, 66,000, 50,000, and 40,000) account for approximately 40 percent of the leucine or methionine radioactivity in medium polypeptide. Schwann cells grown in a serum-free defined medium, in which schwann cells do not relate normally to axons, release approximately four times less labeled medium polypeptides tha cultures grown in medium supplemented with serum and chick embryo extract. In addition, there is a qualitative difference in the pattern of medium polypeptides resolved by SDS-PAGE, so that a single polypeptide (mol wt 40,000) accounts for nearly all of the label in medium polypeptides. Switching of cultures grown in defined medium to supplemented medium for 2 d results in a fourfold increase in the amount of labeled polypeptides appearing in the culture medium, and a return to the normal pattern of medium polypeptides appearing in the culture medium, and a return to the normal pattern of medium polypeptides as resolved by SDS-PAGE. This change in the pattern of polypeptides release by schwann cells is accompanied by changes in the association between schwann cells and axons. An early step in the establishment of normal axon-schwann cell relations appears to be an inward migration of schwann cells into axonal bundles and spreading of schwann cells along neurites. These changes are evident within 48 h after medium shift. Our results thus suggest that the release of proteins by schwann cells may be important for the development of normal axonal ensheathment

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