4.1 family proteins are membrane skeletal proteins that interact with spectrin-actin networks and intramembraneous proteins. We reported that one of them, 4.1G, was immunolocalized in myelinated nerve fibers of the mouse peripheral nervous system, especially along cell membranes of paranodes and Schmidt-Lanterman incisures in Schwann cells. In this study, to examine 4.1G's appearance in unmyelinated peripheral nerve fibers, we focused on the enteric nervous system in mouse large intestines. In intestinal tissues prepared by an "in vivo cryotechnique" followed by freeze-substitution fixation, 4.1G was immunolocalized in Auerbach's myenteric plexus and connecting nerve fiber networks. Its immunostaining was mostly colocalized with glial fibrillar acidic protein, a marker of enteric glial cells, but not with c-Kit, a marker of interstitial cells of Cajal. Using whole-mount preparation after splitting inner and outer muscle layers, the nerve fiber networks including the plexus were clearly detected by the 4.1G immunostaining. By conventional pre-embedding immunoelectron microscopy, 4.1G was detected along cell membranes of enteric glial cells and their processes surrounding axons. These indicate that 4.1G may have some roles in adhesion and/or signal transduction in unmylinated PNS nerve fibers.
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