In their natural habitat, the peripheral nerve, Schwann cells (SCs) form nicely aligned pathways (also known as the bands of Büngner) that guide regenerating axons to their targets. Schwann cells that are implanted in the lesioned spinal cord fail to align in pathways that could support axon growth but form cellular clusters that exhibit only limited intermingling with the astrocytes and meningeal cells (MCs) that are present in the neural scar. The formation of cell clusters can be studied in co-cultures of SCs and MCs. In these co-cultures SCs form cluster-like non-overlapping cell aggregates with well-defined boundaries. There are several indications that neuropilins (NRPs) play an important role in MC-induced SC aggregation. Both SCs and MCs express NRP1 and NRP2 and SCs express the NRP ligands Sema3B, C and E while MCs express Sema3A, C, E and F. We now demonstrate that in SC-MC co-cultures, siRNA mediated knockdown of NRP2 in SCs decreased the formation of SC clusters while these SCs maintained their capacity to align in bands of Büngner-like columnar arrays. Unexpectedly, knockdown of NRP1 expression resulted in a significant increase in SC aggregation. These results suggest that a reduction in NRP2 expression may enhance the capacity of implanted SCs to interact with MCs that invade a neural scar formed after a lesion of the spinal cord.
Roet, K. C. D., Wirz, K. T. S., Franssen, E. H. P., & Verhaagen, J. (2014). A Role for Neuropilins in the Interaction between Schwann Cells and Meningeal Cells. PLoS ONE, 9(10), e109401. [e109401]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0109401