Author(s): Tang DG, Tokumoto YM, Raff MC
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Abstract Oligodendrocytes myelinate axons in the vertebrate central nervous system (CNS). They develop from precursor cells (OPCs), some of which persist in the adult CNS. Adult OPCs differ in many of their properties from OPCs in the developing CNS. In this study we have purified OPCs from postnatal rat optic nerve and cultured them in serum-free medium containing platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), the main mitogen for OPCs, but in the absence of thyroid hormone in order to inhibit their differentiation into oligodendrocytes. We find that many of the cells continue to proliferate for more than a year and progressively acquire a number of the characteristics of OPCs isolated from adult optic nerve. These findings suggest that OPCs have an intrinsic maturation program that progressively changes the cell's phenotype over many months. When we culture the postnatal OPCs in the same conditions but with the addition of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), the cells acquire these mature characteristics much more slowly, suggesting that the combination of bFGF and PDGF, previously shown to inhibit OPC differentiation, also inhibits OPC maturation. The challenge now is to determine the molecular basis of such a protracted maturation program and how the program is restrained by bFGF.
This article was published in J Cell Biol
and referenced in Journal of Genetic Syndromes & Gene Therapy