Prevalent presence of periodic actin-spectrin-based membrane skeleton in a broad range of neuronal cell types and animal species

Jiang He, Ruobo Zhou, Zhuhao Wu, Monica A. Carrasco, Peri T. Kurshan, Jonathan E. Farley, David J. Simon, Guiping Wang, Boran Han, Junjie Hao, Evan Heller, Marc R. Freeman, Kang Shen, Tom Maniatis, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Xiaowei Zhuang

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Actin, spectrin, and associated molecules form a periodic, submembrane cytoskeleton in the axons of neurons. For a better understanding of this membrane-associated periodic skeleton (MPS), it is important to address how prevalent this structure is in different neuronal types, different subcellular compartments, and across different animal species. Here, we investigated the organization of spectrin in a variety of neuronal- and glial-cell types. We observed the presence of MPS in all of the tested neuronal types cultured from mouse central and peripheral nervous systems, including excitatory and inhibitory neurons from several brain regions, as well as sensory and motor neurons. Quantitative analyses show that MPS is preferentially formed in axons in all neuronal types tested here: Spectrin shows a long-range, periodic distribution throughout all axons but appears periodic only in a small fraction of dendrites, typically in the form of isolated patches in subregions of these dendrites. As in dendrites, we also observed patches of periodic spectrin structures in a small fraction of glial-cell processes in four types of glial cells cultured from rodent tissues. Interestingly, despite its strong presence in the axonal shaft, MPS is disrupted in most presynaptic boutons but is present in an appreciable fraction of dendritic spine necks, including some projecting from dendrites where such a periodic structure is not observed in the shaft. Finally, we found that spectrin is capable of adopting a similar periodic organization in neurons of a variety of animal species, including Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila, Gallus gallus, Mus musculus, and Homo sapiens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6029-6034
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 24 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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