Glial sulfatides and neuronal complex gangliosides are functionally interdependent in maintaining myelinating axon integrity

McGonigal, R and Barrie, JA and Yao, D and McLaughlin, M and Cunningham, ME and Rowan, EG and Willison, HJ (2018) Glial sulfatides and neuronal complex gangliosides are functionally interdependent in maintaining myelinating axon integrity. Journal of Neuroscience. ISSN 0270-6474

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    Sulfatides and gangliosides are raft-associated glycolipids essential for maintaining myelinated nerve integrity. Mice deficient in sulfatide (cerebroside sulfotransferase knockout, CST-/- ) or complex gangliosides (β-1,4-N-acetylegalactosaminyltransferase1 knockout, GalNAc-T-/- ) display prominent disorganization of proteins at the node of Ranvier (NoR) in early life, and age-dependent neurodegeneration. Loss of neuronal rather than glial complex gangliosides underpins the GalNAc-T-/- phenotype, as shown by neuron or glial-specific rescue, whereas sulfatide is principally expressed and functional in glial membranes. The similarities in NoR phenotype of CST-/- , GalNAc-T-/- and axo-glial protein deficient mice suggests these glycolipids stabilise membrane proteins including neurofascin155 (NF155) and myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) at axo-glial junctions. To assess the functional interactions between sulfatide and gangliosides, CST-/- and GalNAc-T-/- genotypes were interbred. CST-/- x GalNAc-T-/- mice develop normally to P10, but all die between P20-P25, coinciding with peak myelination. Ultrastructural, immunohistological and biochemical analysis of either sex reveals widespread axonal degeneration and disruption to the axo-glial junction at the NoR. In addition to sulfatide-dependent loss of NF155, CST-/-x GalNAc-T-/- mice exhibited a major reduction in MAG protein levels in CNS myelin, compared to wild type and single lipid deficient mice. The CST-/- x GalNAc-T-/- phenotype was fully restored to that of CST-/- mice by neuron-specific expression of complex gangliosides, but not by their glial-specific expression nor by the global expression of a-series gangliosides. These data indicate that sulfatide and complex b-series gangliosides on the glial and neuronal membranes respectively act in concert to promote NF155 and MAG in maintaining the stable axo-glial interactions essential for normal nerve function.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTSulfatides and complex gangliosides are membrane glycolipids with important roles in maintaining nervous system integrity. Node of Ranvier maintenance in particular requires stable compartmentalisation of multiple membrane proteins. The axo-glial adhesion molecules neurofascin 155 and myelin-associated glycoprotein require membrane microdomains containing either sulfatides or complex gangliosides to localise and function effectively. The co-operative roles of these microdomains and associated proteins are unknown. Here we show vital interdependent roles for sulfatides and complex gangliosides as double (but not single) deficiency causes a rapidly lethal phenotype in early age. These findings suggests that sulfatides and complex gangliosides on opposing axo-glial membranes are responsible for essential tethering of the axo-glial junction proteins, neurofascin155 and myelin-associated glycoprotein that interact to maintain the nodal complex.