Multiple discontinuities are observed in the basal laminas of Schwann cells in mature dystrophic mice. To explore the pathogenesis of this abnormality we have exploited a dystrophic in equilibrium shiverer mouse chimera preparation in which both the basal lamina phenotype and the genotype of myelin-forming Schwann cells can be determined. If the basal lamina abnormality were to arise from an intrinsic deficiency of the dystrophic Schwann cell itself, only those Schwann cells of dystrophic genotype could express the mutant phenotype, whereas the coexisting population of shiverer Schwann cells should express typically normal basal laminas. No such distinction was observed; rather both dystrophic and shiverer Schwann cells were found to express relatively normal basal laminas and two pathogenetic mechanisms remain theoretical possibilities. The dystrophic Schwann cell population may be intrinsically defective but also may be rescued by obtaining the normal product of the dy locus synthesized by the coexisting shiverer cells. Alternatively, an extra Schwann cell deficiency existing within dystrophic mice may be normalized by shiverer cells and the normal intrinsic potential of both dystrophic and shiverer Schwann cells can then be realized. Regardless of the exact mechanism underlying these findings, some extracellularly mediated influence, emanating in vivo from shiverer cells, is capable of ameliorating the basal lamina deficiency typically expressed by dystrophic Schwann cells.

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