Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.308, No.4, 872-877, 2003
A novel marker for terminal Schwann cells, homocysteine-responsive ER-resident protein, as isolated by a single cell PCR-differential display
Terminal Schwarm cells (TSCs) that cover motor neuron terminals are known to play important roles in maintaining neuromuscular junctions, as well as in the repair process after nerve injury. However, molecular characteristics of TSCs remain unknown, because of the difficulties in analyzing them due to their paucity. We have established a method of selectively and efficiently collecting TSCs so that cDNA analysis can be done properly. The expression of 1-2% of whole mRNAs was compared between myelinating Schwarm cells (MSCs) and TSCs, and it turned out that approximately one-third of the bands could be categorized as cell-type-specific bands. TSCs thus constitute a distinct entity from the viewpoint of gene expression. As one of the cDNA clones belonging to TSC-specific bands was identified homocysteine-responsive ER-resident protein (Herp), and in situ hybridization confirmed that Herp mRNA is expressed in TSCs on motor nerve terminals but not in MSCs, both in developing and adult rats. In conclusion, we have been able to identify Herp as a novel molecular marker for TSCs. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.