The Journal of Physiological Sciences

, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 99–104 | Cite as

Activity-dependent regulation of excitable axonal domains

  • Keiichiro SusukiEmail author
  • Hiroshi KubaEmail author


Rapid action potential propagation along myelinated axons requires voltage-gated Na+ channel clustering at the axon initial segments (AISs) and nodes of Ranvier. The AIS is intrinsically defined by cytoskeletal proteins expressed in axons, whereas nodes of Ranvier are formed by interaction between neurons and myelinating glia. These axonal domains have long been considered stable structures, but recent studies revealed that they are plastic and contribute to fine adjustment of neuronal activities and circuit function. The AIS changes its distribution and maintains neural circuit activity at a constant level. Morphological changes in myelinated nerve structures presumably modulate the excitability of nodal regions and regulate the timing of activity, thereby optimizing signal processing in a neural circuit. This review highlights recent findings on the structural plasticity of these excitable axonal domains.


Axon initial segment Node of Ranvier Myelin Neuronal activity Plasticity Ion channel 



The authors thank Dr. Debra A. Mayes (Department of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology, Wright State University, Dayton, OH) for meaningful discussions. This work was supported by grants-in-aid from MEXT (22680032 and 15H04257), the Uehara Memorial Foundation, and the JST PRESTO program to H.K.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

We declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Physiological Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology, Boonshoft School of MedicineWright State UniversityDaytonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Cell Physiology, Graduate School of MedicineNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan
  3. 3.PRESTO, JSTSaitamaJapan

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