Cellular and Molecular Biology



Molecular mechanisms of gap junction mutations in myelinating cells

Irene Sargiannidou1, Kyriaki Markoullis1 and Kleopas A. Kleopa1,2

1Neuroscience Laboratory and 2Neurology Clinics, The Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, Nicosia, Cyprus.

Offprint requests to: Kleopas A. Kleopa, M.D., The Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, P.O. Box 23462, 1683 Nicosia, Cyprus. e-mail: kleopa@cing.ac.cy

Summary. There is an emerging group of neurological disorders that result from genetic mutations affecting gap junction proteins in myelinating cells. The X-linked form of Charcot Marie Tooth disease (CMT1X) is caused by numerous mutations in the GJB1 gene encoding the gap junction protein connexin32 (Cx32), which is expressed in both Schwann cells in the PNS and oligodendrocytes in the CNS. Patients with CMT1X present mainly with a progressive peripheral neuropathy, showing mixed axonal and demyelinating features. In many cases there is also clinical or subclinical involvement of the CNS with acute or chronic phenotypes of encephalopathy. Furthermore, mutations in the GJA12/GJC2 gene encoding the gap junction protein Cx47, which is expressed in oligodendrocytes, have been identified in families with progressive leukodystrophy, known as Pelizaeus-Merzbacher-like disease, as well as in patients with hereditary spastic paraplegia. Recent studies have provided insights into the pattern of gap junction protein expression and function in CNS and PNS myelinating cells. Furthermore, in vitro and in vivo disease models have clarified some of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying these disorders. Here we provide an overview of the clinical, genetic, and neurobiological aspects of gap junction disorders affecting the nervous system
. Histol Histopathol 25, 1191-1206 (2010)

Key words: Connexin32, Connexin47, Schwann cells, Oligodendrocytes, X-linked Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, Pelizaeus-Merzbacher-like disease

DOI: 10.14670/HH-25.1191