Repairing peripheral nerves after injury!

Repairing peripheral nerves after injury!

Researchers focused on injury to cells in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) - the crucial network of nerves outside the brain and spinal cord.

Scientists identified molecules that potentially allow nerve-supporting cells - known as Schwann cells - to transform into a specialized version that enable them to help nerves regenerate.

As well as identifying vital genes that orchestrate this transformation, the scientists discovered molecular markers that flag these Schwann cells as specialist repairers.

Genes identified by the research team were also found to be similar to those seen in tumor formation, which could shed light on cell growth in cancers.

Authors show that genes involved in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition are enriched in repair cells, and they identify several long non-coding RNAs in Schwann cells. Authors demonstrate that the AP-1 transcription factor C-JUN regulates the expression of certain micro RNAs in repair Schwann cells, in particular miR-21 and miR-34.

Surprisingly, unlike during development, changes in CpG methylation are limited in injury, restricted to specific locations, such as enhancer regions of Schwann cell-specific genes (e.g., Nedd4l), and close to local enrichment of AP-1 motifs. These genetic and epigenomic changes broaden our mechanistic understanding of the formation of repair Schwann cell during peripheral nervous system tissue repair.

The co-lead of the study, said: "Our findings give us insight into how cells in the body adapts to injury. This knowledge will help identify drug targets for much-needed therapies to help patients with peripheral neuropathy and traumatic nerve injuries."