Cadm3 (Necl-1) interferes with the activation of the PI3 kinase/Akt signaling cascade and inhibits Schwann cell myelination in vitro.

PMID 27658374


Axo-glial interactions are critical for myelination and the domain organization of myelinated fibers. Cell adhesion molecules belonging to the Cadm family, and in particular Cadm3 (axonal) and its heterophilic binding partner Cadm4 (Schwann cell), mediate these interactions along the internode. Using targeted shRNA-mediated knockdown, we show that the removal of axonal Cadm3 promotes Schwann cell myelination in the in vitro DRG neuron/Schwann cell myelinating system. Conversely, over-expressing Cadm3 on the surface of DRG neuron axons results in an almost complete inability by Schwann cells to form myelin segments. Axons of superior cervical ganglion (SCG) neurons, which do not normally support the formation of myelin segments by Schwann cells, express higher levels of Cadm3 compared to DRG neurons. Knocking down Cadm3 in SCG neurons promotes myelination. Finally, the extracellular domain of Cadm3 interferes in a dose-dependent manner with the activation of ErbB3 and of the pro-myelinating PI3K/Akt pathway, but does not interfere with the activation of the Mek/Erk1/2 pathway. While not in direct contradiction, these in vitro results shed lights on the apparent lack of phenotype that was reported from in vivo studies of Cadm3(-/-) mice. Our results suggest that Cadm3 may act as a negative regulator of PNS myelination, potentially through the selective regulation of the signaling cascades activated in Schwann cells by axonal contact, and in particular by type III Nrg-1. Further analyses of peripheral nerves in the Cadm(-/-) mice will be needed to determine the exact role of axonal Cadm3 in PNS myelination. GLIA 2016;64:2247-2262.