Author(s): Noble M, Prschel C, MayerPrschel M
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Abstract One of the most extensively studied of mammalian cells is the oligodendrocyte, the myelin-forming cell of the central nervous system. The ancestry and development of this cell have been studied with every approach utilized by developmental biologists. Such detailed efforts have the potential of providing paradigms of relevance to those interested in analyzing the ancestry and development of any cell type. One of the striking features of studies on the development of oligodendrocytes is that different analytical approaches have led to strikingly different theoretical views regarding the ancestry of these cells. On one extreme is the hypothesis that the steps leading to the generation of oligodendrocytes begin with the generation of a glial-restricted precursor (GRP) cell from neuroepithelial stem cells. GRP cells are thought to be capable of giving rise to all glial cells (including oligodendrocytes and multiple astrocyte populations), but not to neurons, a process that appears to require progression through further stages of greater lineage restriction. On the other extreme is the hypothesis that oligodendrocytes are derived from a precursor cell that generates only motor neurons and oligodendrocytes, with astrocytes being generated through a separate lineage. In this review, we critically consider the various contributions to understanding the ancestry of oligodendrocytes, with particular attention to the respective merits of the GRP cell vs. the motor neuron-oligodendrocyte precursor (MNOP) cell hypothesis. We draw the conclusion that, at present, the strengths of the GRP cell hypothesis outweigh those of the MNOP hypothesis and other hypotheses suggesting oligodendrocytes are developmentally more related to motor neurons than to astrocytes. Moreover, it is clear from existing data that, following the period of motor neuron generation, the major glial precursor cell in the embryonic spinal cord is the GRP cell, and that multiple previous studies on the earliest stages of oligodendrocyte generation in the developing spinal cord have been focused on a differentiation stage of GRP cells.
This article was published in Dev Biol
and referenced in Journal of Brain Tumors & Neurooncology