5 years ago

Schwann cells use TAM receptor-mediated phagocytosis in addition to autophagy to clear myelin in a mouse model of nerve injury [Neuroscience]

Schwann cells use TAM receptor-mediated phagocytosis in addition to autophagy to clear myelin in a mouse model of nerve injury [Neuroscience]
Lu Zhou, Ben A. Barres, J. Bradley Zuchero, Emilie Lovelett, Won-Suk Chung, Glenn A. Carson, Steven A. Sloan, Sean Posada, Amanda Brosius Lutz

Ineffective myelin debris clearance is a major factor contributing to the poor regenerative ability of the central nervous system. In stark contrast, rapid clearance of myelin debris from the injured peripheral nervous system (PNS) is one of the keys to this system’s remarkable regenerative capacity, but the molecular mechanisms driving PNS myelin clearance are incompletely understood. We set out to discover new pathways of PNS myelin clearance to identify novel strategies for activating myelin clearance in the injured central nervous system, where myelin debris is not cleared efficiently. Here we show that Schwann cells, the myelinating glia of the PNS, collaborate with hematogenous macrophages to clear myelin debris using TAM (Tyro3, Axl, Mer) receptor-mediated phagocytosis as well as autophagy. In a mouse model of PNS nerve crush injury, Schwann cells up-regulate TAM phagocytic receptors Axl and Mertk following PNS injury, and Schwann cells lacking both of these phagocytic receptors exhibit significantly impaired myelin phagocytosis both in vitro and in vivo. Autophagy-deficient Schwann cells also display reductions in myelin clearance after mouse nerve crush injury, as has been recently shown following nerve transection. These findings add a mechanism, Axl/Mertk-mediated myelin clearance, to the repertoire of cellular machinery used to clear myelin in the injured PNS. Given recent evidence that astrocytes express Axl and Mertk and have previously unrecognized phagocytic potential, this pathway may be a promising avenue for activating myelin clearance after CNS injury.

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