Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) originate in the ventricular zones (VZs) of the brain and spinal cord and migrate throughout the developing central nervous system (CNS) before differentiating into myelinating oligodendrocytes (OLs). It is not known whether OPCs or OLs from different parts of the VZ are functionally distinct. OPCs persist in the postnatal CNS, where they continue to divide and generate myelinating OLs at a decreasing rate throughout adult life in rodents. Adult OPCs respond to injury or disease by accelerating their cell cycle and increasing production of OLs to replace lost myelin. They also form synapses with unmyelinated axons and respond to electrical activity in those axons by generating more OLs and myelin locally. This experience-dependent “adaptive” myelination is important in some forms of plasticity and learning, for example, motor learning. We review the control of OL lineage development, including OL population dynamics and adaptive myelination in the adult CNS.
White matter abnormalities have been reported in premanifest Huntington’s disease (HD) subjects before overt striatal neuronal loss, but whether the white matter changes represent a necessary step towards further pathology and the underlying mechanism of these changes remains unknown. Here, we characterized a novel knock-in mouse model that expresses mouse HD gene homolog (Hdh) with extended CAG repeat- HdhQ250, which was derived from the selective breeding of HdhQ150 mice. HdhQ250 mice manifest an accelerated and robust phenotype compared with its parent line. HdhQ250 mice exhibit progressive motor deficits, reduction in striatal and cortical volume, accumulation of mutant huntingtin aggregation, decreased levels of DARPP32 and BDNF and altered striatal metabolites. The abnormalities detected in this mouse model are reminiscent of several aspects of human HD. In addition, disturbed myelination was evident in postnatal Day 14 HdhQ250 mouse brain, including reduced levels of myelin regulatory factor and myelin basic protein, and decreased numbers of myelinated axons in the corpus callosum. Thinner myelin sheaths, indicated by increased G-ratio of myelin, were also detected in the corpus callosum of adult HdhQ250 mice. Moreover, proliferation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells is altered by mutant huntingtin both in vitro and in vivo. Our data indicate that this model is suitable for understanding comprehensive pathogenesis of HD in white matter and gray matter as well as developing therapeutics for HD.
In the adult mammalian CNS, chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) and myelin-associated inhibitors (MAIs) stabilize neuronal structure and restrict compensatory sprouting following injury. The Nogo receptor family members NgR1 and NgR2 bind to MAIs and have been implicated in neuronal inhibition. We found that NgR1 and NgR3 bind with high affinity to the glycosaminoglycan moiety of proteoglycans and participate in CSPG inhibition in cultured neurons. Nogo receptor triple mutants (Ngr1(-/-); Ngr2(-/-); Ngr3(-/-); which are also known as Rtn4r, Rtn4rl2 and Rtn4rl1, respectively), but not single mutants, showed enhanced axonal regeneration following retro-orbital optic nerve crush injury. The combined loss of Ngr1 and Ngr3 (Ngr1(-/-); Ngr3(-/-)), but not Ngr1 and Ngr2 (Ngr1(-/-); Ngr2(-/-)), was sufficient to mimic the triple mutant regeneration phenotype. Regeneration in Ngr1(-/-); Ngr3(-/-) mice was further enhanced by simultaneous ablation of Rptpσ (also known as Ptprs), a known CSPG receptor. Collectively, our results identify NgR1 and NgR3 as CSPG receptors, suggest that there is functional redundancy among CSPG receptors, and provide evidence for shared mechanisms of MAI and CSPG inhibition.
Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) express NMDA receptors (NMDARs) and form synapses with glutamatergic neurons throughout the CNS. Although glutamate influences the proliferation and maturation of these progenitors in vitro, the role of NMDAR signaling in oligodendrogenesis and myelination in vivo is not known. Here, we investigated the consequences of genetically deleting the obligatory NMDAR subunit NR1 from OPCs and their oligodendrocyte progeny in the CNS of developing and mature mice. NMDAR-deficient OPCs proliferated normally, achieved appropriate densities in gray and white matter, and differentiated to form major white matter tracts without delay. OPCs also retained their characteristic physiological and morphological properties in the absence of NMDAR signaling and were able to form synapses with glutamatergic axons. However, expression of calcium-permeable AMPA receptors (AMPARs) was enhanced in NMDAR-deficient OPCs. These results suggest that NMDAR signaling is not used to control OPC development but to regulate AMPAR-dependent signaling with surrounding axons, pointing to additional functions for these ubiquitous glial cells.