Decoding mechanisms of cell orientation in the brain

July 31, 2013, Universitaet Mainz
The upper two pictures show NG2-expressing OPC in healthy nerve tissue. In comparison, the lower pictures show the altered morphology and orientation of cells in damaged nerve tissue. Credit: Dominik Sakry

When the central nervous system is injured, oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPC) migrate to the lesion and synthesize new myelin sheaths on demyelinated axons. Scientists at the Institute of Molecular Cell Biology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have now discovered that a distinct protein regulates the direction and movement of OPC toward the wound. The transmembrane protein NG2, which is expressed at the surface of OPCs and down-regulated as they mature to myelinating oligodendrocytes, plays an important role in the reaction of OPC to wounding. The results of this study have recently been published in the renowned Journal of Neuroscience.

The functions to electrically isolate axons of many and is synthesized by oligodendrocytes which mature from the OPC. In the case of injury, neural cells send out signaling molecules which attract the OPC. The NG2 protein helps OPCs to react to some of these and move in a directed and orientated fashion. "We were able to prove in cell biological experiments that NG2 orientates OPC toward the lesion and ensures targeted OPC migration toward the wound through the regulation of cell polarity", explained Dr. Fabien Binamé, lead author of the study. Supported by funding of the German Research Foundation (DFG), Dr. Fabien Binamé is currently carrying out his research at the Institute of Molecular Cell Biology headed by Professor Jacqueline Trotter.

"The function and mode of operation of NG2 is not yet fully understood", added co-author Dominik Sakry, who was also involved in the study. "But it looks as if the NG2-associated regulatory mechanism becomes apparent only in cases of injury of the nervous system."

Diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis or brain tumors go hand in hand with damage of nerve tissue. "The results of our study on NG2-mediated basic mechanisms of cell orientation and migration could aid in understanding the repair of damaged demyelinated tissue, or be important for treatment of highly active migratory which often express high levels of NG2", said Professor Jacqueline Trotter, head of the JGU Institute of Molecular Cell Biology.

Explore further: New study finds external stimulation impacts white matter development in the postnatal brain

More information: F. Binamé, D. Sakry, L. Dimou, V. Jolivel, J. Trotter, NG2 Regulates Directional Migration of Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells via Rho GTPases and Polarity Complex Proteins, Journal of Neuroscience, 26 June 2013 DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5010-12.2013

Related Stories

New study finds external stimulation impacts white matter development in the postnatal brain

August 13, 2012
A team at Children's National Medical Center has found that external stimulation has an impact on the postnatal development of a specific region of the brain. Published in Nature Neuroscience, the study used sensory deprivation ...

Researchers discover dynamic behavior of progenitor cells in brain

May 9, 2013
By monitoring the behavior of a class of cells in the brains of living mice, neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins discovered that these cells remain highly dynamic in the adult brain, where they transform into cells that insulate ...

New mode of cellular communication discovered in the brain

July 16, 2013
Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have discovered a new form of communication between different cell types in the brain. Nerve cells interact with neighboring glial cells, which results in a transfer ...

Scientists identify inhibitor of myelin formation in the central nervous system

November 20, 2012
Scientists at the Mainz University Medical Center have discovered another molecule that plays an important role in regulating myelin formation in the central nervous system. Myelin promotes the conduction of nerve cell impulses ...

Cells forged from human skin show promise in treating multiple sclerosis, myelin disorders

February 7, 2013
A study out today in the journal Cell Stem Cell shows that human brain cells created by reprogramming skin cells are highly effective in treating myelin disorders, a family of diseases that includes multiple sclerosis and ...

Recommended for you

New neuron-like cells allow investigation into synthesis of vital cellular components

January 22, 2018
Neuron-like cells created from a readily available cell line have allowed researchers to investigate how the human brain makes a metabolic building block essential for the survival of all living organisms. A team led by researchers ...

Finding unravels nature of cognitive inflexibility in fragile X syndrome

January 22, 2018
Mice with the genetic defect that causes fragile X syndrome (FXS) learn and remember normally, but show an inability to learn new information that contradicts what they initially learned, shows a new study by a team of neuroscientists. ...

Epilepsy linked to brain volume and thickness differences

January 22, 2018
Epilepsy is associated with thickness and volume differences in the grey matter of several brain regions, according to new research led by UCL and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.