Decoding mechanisms of cell orientation in the brain

July 31, 2013
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

The neural codes for body movements

July 21, 2017
A small patch of neurons in the brain can encode the movements of many body parts, according to researchers in the laboratory of Caltech's Richard Andersen, James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, Tianqiao and Chrissy ...

Faulty support cells disrupt communication in brains of people with schizophrenia

July 20, 2017
New research has identified the culprit behind the wiring problems in the brains of people with schizophrenia. When researchers transplanted human brain cells generated from individuals diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia ...

Scientists discover combined sensory map for heat, humidity in fly brain

July 20, 2017
Northwestern University neuroscientists now can visualize how fruit flies sense and process humidity and temperature together through a "sensory map" within their brains, according to new research.

Scientists reveal how patterns of brain activity direct specific body movements

July 20, 2017
New research by Columbia scientists offers fresh insight into how the brain tells the body to move, from simple behaviors like walking, to trained movements that may take years to master. The discovery in mice advances knowledge ...

Team traces masculinization in mice to estrogen receptor in inhibitory neurons

July 20, 2017
Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have opened a black box in the brain whose contents explain one of the remarkable yet mysterious facts of life.

Speech language therapy delivered through the Internet leads to similar improvements as in-person treatment

July 20, 2017
Telerehabilitation helps healthcare professionals reach more patients in need, but some worry it doesn't offer the same quality of care as in-person treatment. This isn't the case, according to recent research by Baycrest.

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.