Functional development of Schwann cells

Schwann cell precursors originate from neural crest cells that migrate from the dorsal part of the neural tube as it closes. These cells are multipotent and give rise to both neurones and Schwann cells in the PNS. Under the influence of Delta/Notch signalling, NRG-1 and the transcription factor SOXIO, crest cells develop first into Schwann cell precursors and then immature Schwann cells. These then diverge to form either nonmyelinating Schwann cells which surround small diameter axons, or myelinating Schwann cells which surround and subsequently myelinate large diameter axons, under the influence of the transcription factor Krox-20 and axonal signals, a key one being NRG-1. NRG-1 is involved in all stages of Schwann cell development, and is the major axon-derived mitogen, survival factor and regulator of myelination for Schwann cells.

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