The Mysteries of Myelin Unwrapped

Science  30 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5671, pp. 688-689
DOI: 10.1126/science.1097851

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The axons of neurons are wrapped in myelin sheaths by glial cells, thus ensuring the rapid and accurate conduction of electrical impulses. It is well established that the size of the axon dictates the thickness of the myelin sheath, but the question is how. In their Perspective, ffrench-Constant et al. discuss an exciting new study ( Michailov et al.) identifying neuregulin type III as the biochemical signal produced by axons that enables Schwann cells to produce myelin sheaths of the correct thickness.