This allows them to form uninterrupted regeneration tracks (Bands of Bungner) that guide axons back to their
targets (Chen et al., 2007; Vargas and Barres, 2007; Gordon et al., 2009). Collectively, these events together with the axonal death that triggers them are called Wallerian degeneration. This response transforms the normally growth-hostile environment of intact nerves to a growth supportive terrain, and endows the PNS with its remarkable and characteristic regenerative potential. To complete the repair process, Schwann cells envelop the regenerated axons and transform again to generate myelin and nonmyelinating (Remak) cells. Little is known about the transcriptional control of changes in adult differentiation states, including natural dedifferentiation and transdifferentiation, BYL719 in vitro selleck chemicals in any system (Jopling et al., 2011). In line with this, although Wallerian degeneration including the Schwann cell injury response are key to repair, the molecular mechanisms that control
these processes are not understood (Chen et al., 2007; Jessen and Mirsky, 2008). Conceptually also, the nature of the Schwann cell injury response has remained uncertain, since the generation of the denervated Schwann cell is commonly referred to either as dedifferentiation or as activation. These terms highlight two distinct aspects of the process, namely loss of the differentiated Schwann cell phenotypes of normal nerves and gain of the regeneration
promoting phenotype, respectively, without providing a framework for analysis and comparison with other regenerative models. Here, we use mice with selective inactivation of the transcription factor c-Jun in Schwann cells to show that c-Jun is a global regulator of the Schwann cell injury response that specifies the characteristic gene expression, structure, and function of the denervated Schwann cell, a cell that is essential for nerve repair. Consequently, axonal regeneration and functional repair are strikingly compromised or absent when Schwann PD184352 (CI-1040) cell c-Jun is inactivated. Notably, the effects of c-Jun are injury specific, since c-Jun inactivation has no significant effects on nerve development or adult nerve function. These observations provide a molecular basis for understanding Schwann cell plasticity, show that c-Jun is a key regulator of Wallerian degeneration, and offer conclusive support for the notion that glial cells control repair in the PNS. They also show that the Schwann cell injury response has much in common with transdifferentiation, since it represents the generation, by dedicated transcriptional controls, of a distinct Schwann cell repair phenotype, specialized for supporting axon growth and neuronal survival in injured nerves. Because these cells form the regeneration tracks called Bungner’s bands, we will refer to them as Bungner cells.