CMTM6 expressed on the adaxonal Schwann cell surface restricts axonal diameters in peripheral nerves
Eichel, M. A., Gargareta, V. I., D’Este, E., Fledrich, R., Kungl, T., Buscham, T. J., ... & Werner, H. B.
Cellular neuroscience, Peripheral nervous system, Schwann cell
The velocity of nerve conduction is moderately enhanced by larger axonal diameters and potently sped up by myelination of axons. Myelination thus allows rapid impulse propagation with reduced axonal diameters; however, no myelin-dependent mechanism has been reported that restricts radial growth of axons. By label-free proteomics, STED-microscopy and cryo-immuno electron-microscopy we here identify CMTM6 (chemokine-like factor-like MARVEL-transmembrane domain-containing family member-6) as a myelin protein specifically localized to the Schwann cell membrane exposed to the axon. We find that disruption of Cmtm6-expression in Schwann cells causes a substantial increase of axonal diameters but does not impair myelin biogenesis, radial sorting or integrity of axons. Increased axonal diameters correlate with accelerated sensory nerve conduction and sensory responses and perturbed motor performance. These data show that Schwann cells utilize CMTM6 to restrict the radial growth of axons, which optimizes nerve function.