A new mouse model of Charcot-Marie-Tooth 2J neuropathy replicates human axonopathy and suggest alteration in axo-glia communication

Ghjuvan Ghjacumu Shackleford, Leandro N. Marziali, Yo Sasaki, Anke Claessens, Cinzia Ferri, Nadav I. Weinstock, Alexander M. Rossor, Nicholas J. Silvestri, Emma R. Wilson, Edward Hurley, Grahame J. Kidd, Senthilvelan Manohar, Dalian Ding, Richard J. Salvi, M. Laura Feltri, Maurizio D’Antonio, Lawrence Wrabetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Myelin is essential for rapid nerve impulse propagation and axon protection. Accordingly, defects in myelination or myelin maintenance lead to secondary axonal damage and subsequent degeneration. Studies utilizing genetic (CNPase-, MAG-, and PLP-null mice) and naturally occurring neuropathy models suggest that myelinating glia also support axons independently from myelin. Myelin protein zero (MPZ or P0), which is expressed only by Schwann cells, is critical for myelin formation and maintenance in the peripheral nervous system. Many mutations in MPZ are associated with demyelinating neuropathies (Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1B [CMT1B]). Surprisingly, the substitution of threonine by methionine at position 124 of P0 (P0T124M) causes axonal neuropathy (CMT2J) with little to no myelin damage. This disease provides an excellent paradigm to understand how myelinating glia support axons independently from myelin. To study this, we generated targeted knock-in MpzT124M mutant mice, a genetically authentic model of T124M-CMT2J neuropathy. Similar to patients, these mice develop axonopathy between 2 and 12 months of age, characterized by impaired motor performance, normal nerve conduction velocities but reduced compound motor action potential amplitudes, and axonal damage with only minor compact myelin modifications. Mechanistically, we detected metabolic changes that could lead to axonal degeneration, and prominent alterations in non-compact myelin domains such as paranodes, Schmidt-Lanterman incisures, and gap junctions, implicated in Schwann cell-axon communication and axonal metabolic support. Finally, we document perturbed mitochondrial size and distribution along MpzT124M axons suggesting altered axonal transport. Our data suggest that Schwann cells in P0T124M mutant mice cannot provide axons with sufficient trophic support, leading to reduced ATP biosynthesis and axonopathy. In conclusion, the MpzT124M mouse model faithfully reproduces the human neuropathy and represents a unique tool for identifying the molecular basis for glial support of axons.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1010477
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 9 2022


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