Expression of the integrin α6β4 in peripheral nerves: Localization in Schwann and perineural cells and different variants of the β4 subunit

C. M. Niessen, O. Cremona, H. Daams, S. Ferraresi, A. Sonnenberg, P. C. Marchisio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Integrin α6β4 is expressed in human peripheral nerves, but not in the central nervous system. This integrin heterodimer has previously been found in perineural fibroblast-like cells and in Schwann cells (SCs), which both assemble a basement membrane but do not form hemidesmosomes. We show here that in SCs, which had formed a myelin sheath, α6β4 was enriched in the proximity of the nucleus, at Ranvier paranodal areas and at Schmitt-Lanterman clefts; α6β4 was also found at the grooved interface between small axons and non-myelinating SCs. Immunoprecipitation of human peripheral nerves, in combination with Western blotting showed that β4 is associated with the α(6A) subunit. Northern blot analysis of human peripheral nerves showed a single β4 transcript of 6 kb. Using the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, we detected two mRNA species, one for the most common (-70, -53) form of β4 and the other encoding the (+53) variant of β4. Cultured SCs were devoid of α6β4 but expressed α6β1, indicating that SCs lose β4 expression when contact with neurons is lost. Thus, resting SCs in contact with axons express α(6A) in combination with β4, irrespective of myelin formation. We suggest that α6β4 expressed in SCs plays a role in peripheral neurogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-552
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1994


  • β variant
  • Integrin αβ
  • Perineural fibroblast
  • Peripheral nerve
  • Schwann cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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