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1.  Developmental Changes Underlying the Formation of the Specialized Time Coding Circuits in Barn Owls (Tyto alba) 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2002;22(17):7671-7679.
Barn owls are capable of great accuracy in detecting the interaural time differences (ITDs) that underlie azimuthal sound localization. They compute ITDs in a circuit in nucleus laminaris (NL) that is reorganized with respect to birds like the chicken. The events that lead to the reorganization of the barn owl NL take place during embryonic development, shortly after the cochlear and laminaris nuclei have differentiated morphologically. At first the developing owl’s auditory brainstem exhibits morphology reminiscent of that of the developing chicken. Later, the two systems diverge, and the owl’s brainstem auditory nuclei undergo a secondary morphogenetic phase during which NL dendrites retract, the laminar organization is lost, and synapses are redistributed. These events lead to the restructuring of the ITD coding circuit and the consequent reorganization of the hindbrain map of ITDs and azimuthal space.
PMCID: PMC3260528  PMID: 12196590
avian development; morphogenesis; auditory; laminaris; evolution; interaural time difference
2.  Modeling coincidence detection in nucleus laminaris 
Biological Cybernetics  2003;89(5):388-396.
A biologically detailed model of the binaural avian nucleus laminaris is constructed, as a two-dimensional array of multicompartment, conductance-based neurons, along tonotopic and interaural time delay (ITD) axes. The model is based primarily on data from chick nucleus laminaris. Typical chick-like parameters perform ITD discrimination up to 2 kHz, and enhancements for barn owl perform ITD discrimination up to 6 kHz. The dendritic length gradient of NL is explained concisely. The response to binaural out-of-phase input is suppressed well below the response to monaural input (without any spontaneous activity on the opposite side), implicating active potassium channels as crucial to good ITD discrimination.
PMCID: PMC3269635  PMID: 14669019
3.  Biophysical basis of the sound analog membrane potential that underlies coincidence detection in the barn owl 
Interaural time difference (ITD), or the difference in timing of a sound wave arriving at the two ears, is a fundamental cue for sound localization. A wide variety of animals have specialized neural circuits dedicated to the computation of ITDs. In the avian auditory brainstem, ITDs are encoded as the spike rates in the coincidence detector neurons of the nucleus laminaris (NL). NL neurons compare the binaural phase-locked inputs from the axons of ipsi- and contralateral nucleus magnocellularis (NM) neurons. Intracellular recordings from the barn owl's NL in vivo showed that tonal stimuli induce oscillations in the membrane potential. Since this oscillatory potential resembled the stimulus sound waveform, it was named the sound analog potential (Funabiki et al., 2011). Previous modeling studies suggested that a convergence of phase-locked spikes from NM leads to an oscillatory membrane potential in NL, but how presynaptic, synaptic, and postsynaptic factors affect the formation of the sound analog potential remains to be investigated. In the accompanying paper, we derive analytical relations between these parameters and the signal and noise components of the oscillation. In this paper, we focus on the effects of the number of presynaptic NM fibers, the mean firing rate of these fibers, their average degree of phase-locking, and the synaptic time scale. Theoretical analyses and numerical simulations show that, provided the total synaptic input is kept constant, changes in the number and spike rate of NM fibers alter the ITD-independent noise whereas the degree of phase-locking is linearly converted to the ITD-dependent signal component of the sound analog potential. The synaptic time constant affects the signal more prominently than the noise, making faster synaptic input more suitable for effective ITD computation.
PMCID: PMC3821004  PMID: 24265615
phase-locking; sound localization; auditory brainstem; periodic signals; oscillation; owl
4.  Interaural timing difference circuits in the auditory brainstem of the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) 
In the auditory system, precise encoding of temporal information is critical for sound localization, a task with direct behavioral relevance. Interaural timing differences are computed using axonal delay lines and cellular coincidence detectors in nucleus laminaris (NL). We present morphological and physiological data on the timing circuits in the emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae, and compare these results with those from the barn owl (Tyto alba) and the domestic chick (Gallus gallus). Emu NL was composed of a compact monolayer of bitufted neurons whose two thick primary dendrites were oriented dorsoventrally. They showed a gradient in dendritic length along the presumed tonotopic axis. The NL and nucleus magnocellularis (NM) neurons were strongly immunoreactive for parvalbumin, a calcium-binding protein. Antibodies against synaptic vesicle protein 2 and glutamic acid decarboxlyase revealed that excitatory synapses terminated heavily on the dendritic tufts, while inhibitory terminals were distributed more uniformly. Physiological recordings from brainstem slices demonstrated contralateral delay lines from NM to NL. During whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, NM and NL neurons fired single spikes and were doubly-rectifying. NL and NM neurons had input resistances of 30.0 ± 19.9 MΩ and 49.0 ± 25.6 MΩ, respectively, and membrane time constants of 12.8 ± 3.8 ms and 3.9 ± 0.2 ms. These results provide further support for the Jeffress model for sound localization in birds. The emu timing circuits showed the ancestral (plesiomorphic) pattern in their anatomy and physiology, while differences in dendritic structure compared to chick and owl may indicate specialization for encoding ITDs at low best frequencies.
PMCID: PMC2948976  PMID: 16435285
avian; nucleus laminaris; nucleus magnocellularis; dendrite; coincidence detection; sound localization
5.  Oligodendrocytes as Regulators of Neuronal Networks during Early Postnatal Development 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19849.
Oligodendrocytes are the glial cells responsible for myelin formation. Myelination occurs during the first postnatal weeks and, in rodents, is completed during the third week after birth. Myelin ensures the fast conduction of the nerve impulse; in the adult, myelin proteins have an inhibitory role on axon growth and regeneration after injury. During brain development, oligodendrocytes precursors originating in multiple locations along the antero-posterior axis actively proliferate and migrate to colonize the whole brain. Whether the initial interactions between oligodendrocytes and neurons might play a functional role before the onset of myelination is still not completely elucidated. In this article, we addressed this question by transgenically targeted ablation of proliferating oligodendrocytes during cerebellum development. Interestingly, we show that depletion of oligodendrocytes at postnatal day 1 (P1) profoundly affects the establishment of cerebellar circuitries. We observed an impressive deregulation in the expression of molecules involved in axon growth, guidance and synaptic plasticity. These effects were accompanied by an outstanding increase of neurofilament staining observed 4 hours after the beginning of the ablation protocol, likely dependent from sprouting of cerebellar fibers. Oligodendrocyte ablation modifies localization and function of ionotropic glutamate receptors in Purkinje neurons. These results show a novel oligodendrocyte function expressed during early postnatal brain development, where these cells participate in the formation of cerebellar circuitries, and influence its development.
PMCID: PMC3093406  PMID: 21589880
6.  Noise Reduction of Coincidence Detector Output by the Inferior Colliculus of the Barn Owl 
A recurring theme in theoretical work is that integration over populations of similarly tuned neurons can reduce neural noise. However, there are relatively few demonstrations of an explicit noise reduction mechanism in a neural network. Here we demonstrate that the brainstem of the barn owl includes a stage of processing apparently devoted to increasing the signal-to-noise ratio in the encoding of the interaural time difference (ITD), one of two primary binaural cues used to compute the position of a sound source in space. In the barn owl, the ITD is processed in a dedicated neural pathway that terminates at the core of the inferior colliculus (ICcc). The actual locus of the computation of the ITD is before ICcc in the nucleus laminaris (NL), and ICcc receives no inputs carrying information that did not originate in NL. Unlike in NL, the rate-ITD functions of ICcc neurons require as little as a single stimulus presentation per ITD to show coherent ITD tuning. ICcc neurons also displayed a greater dynamic range with a maximal difference in ITD response rates approximately double that seen in NL. These results indicate that ICcc neurons perform a computation functionally analogous to averaging across a population of similarly tuned NL neurons.
PMCID: PMC2492673  PMID: 16738236
interaural time difference; sound localization; inferior colliculus; nucleus laminaris; barn owl; pooling
7.  Mechanisms for Adjusting Interaural Time Differences to Achieve Binaural Coincidence Detection 
Understanding binaural perception requires detailed analyses of the neural circuitry responsible for the computation of interaural time differences (ITDs). In the avian brainstem, this circuit consists of internal axonal delay lines innervating an array of coincidence detector neurons that encode external ITDs. Nucleus magnocellularis (NM) neurons project to the dorsal dendritic field of the ipsilateral nucleus laminaris (NL) and to the ventral field of the contralateral NL. Contralateral-projecting axons form a delay line system along a band of NL neurons. Binaural acoustic signals in the form of phase-locked action potentials from NM cells arrive at NL and establish a topographic map of sound source location along the azimuth. These pathways are assumed to represent a circuit similar to the Jeffress model of sound localization, establishing a place code along an isofrequency contour of NL. Three-dimensional measurements of axon lengths reveal major discrepancies with the current model; the temporal offset based on conduction length alone makes encoding of physiological ITDs impossible. However, axon diameter and distances between Nodes of Ranvier also influence signal propagation times along an axon. Our measurements of these parameters reveal that diameter and internode distance can compensate for the temporal offset inferred from axon lengths alone. Together with other recent studies these unexpected results should inspire new thinking on the cellular biology, evolution and plasticity of the circuitry underlying low frequency sound localization in both birds and mammals.
PMCID: PMC2822993  PMID: 20053889
Sound; Localization; Auditory; Brainstem; Axon; Conduction; Velocity
8.  Myelin Gene Regulatory Factor Is Required for Maintenance of Myelin and Mature Oligodendrocyte Identity in the Adult CNS 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2012;32(36):12528-12542.
Although the transcription factors required for the generation of oligodendrocytes and CNS myelination during development have been relatively well established, it is not known whether continued expression of the same factors is required for the maintenance of myelin in the adult. Here, we use an inducible conditional knock-out strategy to investigate whether continued oligodendrocyte expression of the recently identified transcription factor myelin gene regulatory factor (MRF) is required to maintain the integrity of myelin in the adult CNS. Genetic ablation of MRF in mature oligodendrocytes within the adult CNS resulted in a delayed but severe CNS demyelination, with clinical symptoms beginning at 5 weeks and peaking at 8 weeks after ablation of MRF. This demyelination was accompanied by microglial/macrophage infiltration and axonal damage. Transcripts for myelin genes, such as proteolipid protein, MAG, MBP, and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein, were rapidly downregulated after ablation of MRF, indicating an ongoing requirement for MRF in the expression of these genes. Subsequently, a proportion of the recombined oligodendrocytes undergo apoptosis over a period of weeks. Surviving oligodendrocytes gradually lose the expression of mature markers such as CC1 antigen and their association with myelin, without reexpressing oligodendrocyte progenitor markers or reentering the cell cycle. These results demonstrate that ongoing expression of MRF within the adult CNS is critical to maintain mature oligodendrocyte identity and the integrity of CNS myelin.
PMCID: PMC3752083  PMID: 22956843
9.  PDGFRA/NG2 glia generate myelinating oligodendrocytes and piriform projection neurons in adult mice 
Nature neuroscience  2008;11(12):10.1038/nn.2220.
Platelet-derived growth factor α receptor (PDGFRA)/NG2–expressing glia are distributed throughout the adult CNS. They are descended from oligodendrocyte precursors (OLPs) in the perinatal CNS, but it is not clear whether they continue to generate myelinating oligodendrocytes or other differentiated cells during normal adult life. We followed the fates of adult OLPs in Pdgfra-creERT2/Rosa26-YFP double-transgenic mice and found that they generated many myelinating oligodendrocytes during adulthood; >20% of all oligodendrocytes in the adult mouse corpus callosum were generated after 7 weeks of age, raising questions about the function of the late-myelinating axons. OLPs also produced some myelinating cells in the cortex, but the majority of adult-born cortical cells did not appear to myelinate. We found no evidence for astrocyte production in gray or white matter. However, small numbers of projection neurons were generated in the forebrain, especially in the piriform cortex, which is the main target of the olfactory bulb.
PMCID: PMC3842596  PMID: 18849983
10.  The Axonal Membrane Protein Caspr, a Homologue of Neurexin IV, Is a Component of the Septate-like Paranodal Junctions That Assemble during Myelination  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1997;139(6):1495-1506.
We have investigated the potential role of contactin and contactin-associated protein (Caspr) in the axonal–glial interactions of myelination. In the nervous system, contactin is expressed by neurons, oligodendrocytes, and their progenitors, but not by Schwann cells. Expression of Caspr, a homologue of Neurexin IV, is restricted to neurons. Both contactin and Caspr are uniformly expressed at high levels on the surface of unensheathed neurites and are downregulated during myelination in vitro and in vivo. Contactin is downregulated along the entire myelinated nerve fiber. In contrast, Caspr expression initially remains elevated along segments of neurites associated with nascent myelin sheaths. With further maturation, Caspr is downregulated in the internode and becomes strikingly concentrated in the paranodal regions of the axon, suggesting that it redistributes from the internode to these sites. Caspr expression is similarly restricted to the paranodes of mature myelinated axons in the peripheral and central nervous systems; it is more diffusely and persistently expressed in gray matter and on unmyelinated axons. Immunoelectron microscopy demonstrated that Caspr is localized to the septate-like junctions that form between axons and the paranodal loops of myelinating cells. Caspr is poorly extracted by nonionic detergents, suggesting that it is associated with the axon cytoskeleton at these junctions. These results indicate that contactin and Caspr function independently during myelination and that their expression is regulated by glial ensheathment. They strongly implicate Caspr as a major transmembrane component of the paranodal junctions, whose molecular composition has previously been unknown, and suggest its role in the reciprocal signaling between axons and glia.
PMCID: PMC2132621  PMID: 9396755
11.  Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor Signaling in Oligodendrocytes Regulates Myelin Sheath Thickness 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2012;32(19):6631-6641.
Formation of the central nervous system (CNS) white matter is developmentally tightly regulated, but the molecules and mechanisms of myelination control in the postnatal CNS are poorly understood. Here, we show that myelin growth is controlled by Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF) signaling, originally identified as a proliferative signal for oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPC) in vitro. We created two lines of mice lacking both FGF-receptor 1 (Fgfr1) and Fgfr2 in oligodendrocyte lineage cells but found that in these mice OPC proliferation and differentiation were unaffected. Also axonal ensheathment and the initiation of myelination was on time. However, the rapid growth of CNS myelin, normally occurring in the second postnatal week, was strongly inhibited. Throughout adulthood, the myelin sheath remained disproportionately thin relative to the axon caliber. In adult mice, mutant oligodendrocytes were normal in number, whereas the transcription of major myelin genes was reduced. This FGF-receptor mediated stimulation of mature oligodendrocytes could also be modeled in vitro, demonstrating that enhanced expansion of oligodendroglial processes requires signaling by extracellular-signal regulated kinases-1 and -2 (Erk1/2), downstream mediaters of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK). Also in vivo, Erk1/2-MAPK activity was reduced in the hypomyelinated CNS of Fgfr1/Fgfr2 mutant mice. These studies reveal a previously unrecognized function of FGF-receptor signaling in oligodendrocytes that contributes to the regulation of myelin sheath thickness, and which uncouples the initiation of ensheathment from the later phase of continued myelin growth.
PMCID: PMC3367512  PMID: 22573685
oligodendrocyte; myelin
12.  Microsecond Precision of Phase Delay in the Auditory System of the Barn Owl 
Journal of Neurophysiology  2005;94(2):1655-1658.
The auditory system encodes time with sub-millisecond accuracy. To shed new light on the basic mechanism underlying this precise temporal neuronal coding, we analyzed the neurophonic potential, a characteristic multiunit response, in the barn owl’s nucleus laminaris. We report here that the relative time measure of phase delay is robust against changes in sound level, with a precision sharper than 20 µs. Absolute measures of delay, such as group delay or signal-front delay, had much greater temporal jitter, for example due to their strong dependence on sound level. Our findings support the hypothesis that phase delay underlies the sub-millisecond precision of the representation of interaural time difference needed for sound localization.
PMCID: PMC3268176  PMID: 15843477
13.  Oligodendrocyte Dynamics in the Healthy Adult CNS: Evidence for Myelin Remodeling 
Neuron  2013;77(5):10.1016/j.neuron.2013.01.006.
Oligodendrocyte precursors (OPs) continue to proliferate and generate myelinating oligodendrocytes (OLs) well into adulthood. It is not known whether adult-born OLs ensheath previously unmyelinated axons or remodel existing myelin. We quantified OP division and OL production in different regions of the adult mouse CNS including the 4-month-old optic nerve, in which practically all axons are already myelinated. Even there, all OPs were dividing and generating new OLs and myelin at a rate higher than can be explained by first-time myelination of naked axons. We conclude that adult-born OLs in the optic nerve are engaged in myelin remodeling, either replacing OLs that die in service or intercalating among existing myelin sheaths. The latter would predict that average internode length should decrease with age. Consistent with that, we found that adult-born OLs elaborated much shorter but many more internodes than OLs generated during early postnatal life.
PMCID: PMC3842597  PMID: 23473318
14.  Maps of interaural time difference in the chicken’s brainstem nucleus laminaris 
Biological cybernetics  2008;98(6):541-559.
Animals, including humans, use interaural time differences (ITDs) that arise from different sound path lengths to the two ears as a cue of horizontal sound source location. The nature of the neural code for ITD is still controversial. Current models differentiate between two population codes: either a map-like rate-place code of ITD along an array of neurons, consistent with a large body of data in the barn owl, or a population rate code, consistent with data from small mammals. Recently, it was proposed that these different codes reflect optimal coding strategies that depend on head size and sound frequency. The chicken makes an excellent test case of this proposal because its physical pre-requisites are similar to small mammals, yet it shares a more recent common ancestry with the owl. We show here that, like in the barn owl, the brainstem nucleus laminaris in mature chickens displayed the major features of a place code of ITD. ITD was topographically represented in the maximal responses of neurons along each isofrequency band, covering approximately the contralateral acoustic hemisphere. Furthermore, the represented ITD range appeared to change with frequency, consistent with a pressure gradient receiver mechanism in the avian middle ear. At very low frequencies, below400 Hz, maximal neural responses were symmetrically distributed around zero ITD and it remained unclear whether there was a topographic representation. These findings do not agree with the above predictions for optimal coding and thus revive the discussion as to what determines the neural coding strategies for ITDs.
PMCID: PMC3170859  PMID: 18491165
Auditory; Hearing; Sound localization; Sensory
15.  Emergence of Multiplicative Auditory Responses in the Midbrain of the Barn Owl 
Journal of neurophysiology  2007;98(3):1181-1193.
Space-specific neurons in the barn owl’s auditory space map gain spatial selectivity through tuning to combinations of the interaural time difference (ITD) and interaural level difference (ILD). The combination of ITD and ILD in the subthreshold responses of space-specific neurons in the external nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICx) is well described by a multiplication of ITD- and ILD-dependent components. It is unknown, however, how ITD and ILD are combined at the site of ITD and ILD convergence in the lateral shell of the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICcl) and therefore whether ICx is the first site in the auditory pathway where multiplicative tuning to ITD-and ILD-dependent signals occurs. We used extracellular re-cording of single neurons to determine how ITD and ILD are combined in ICcl of the anesthetized barn owl (Tyto alba). A comparison of additive, multiplicative, and linear-threshold models of neural responses shows that ITD and ILD are combined nonlinearly in ICcl, but the interaction of ITD and ILD is not uniformly multiplicative over the sample. A subset (61%) of the neural responses is well described by the multiplicative model, indicating that ICcl is the first site where multiplicative tuning to ITD- and ILD-dependent signals occurs. ICx, however, is the first site where multiplicative tuning is observed consistently. A network model shows that a linear combination of ICcl responses to ITD–ILD pairs is sufficient to produce the multiplicative subthreshold responses to ITD and ILD seen in ICx.
PMCID: PMC2532518  PMID: 17615132
16.  Neuron-oligodendrocyte myelination co-culture derived from embryonic rat spinal cord and cerebral cortex 
Brain and Behavior  2012;2(1):53-67.
An in vitro myelination model derived from rat central nervous system (CNS) remains to be established. Here, we describe a simple and reproducible myelination culture method using dissociated neuron-oligodendrocyte (OL) co-cultures from either the embryonic day 16 (E16) rat spinal cord or cerebral cortex. The dissociated cells are plated directly on poly-L-lysine-coated cover slips and maintained in a modified myelination medium that supports both OL and neuron differentiation. The spinal cord derived OL progenitor cells develop quickly into myelin basic protein (MBP)+ mature OLs and start to myelinate axons around 17 days in vitro (DIV17). Myelination reaches its peak around six weeks (DIV40) and the typical nodes of Ranvier are revealed by paranodal proteins Caspr and juxaparanodal protein Kv1.2 immunoreactivity. Electron microscopy (EM) shows typical myelination cytoarchitecture and synaptic organization. In contrast, the cortical-derived co-culture requires triiodothyronine (T3) in the culture medium for myelination. Finally, either hypomyelination and/or demyelination can be induced by exposing proinflammatory cytokines or demyelinating agents to the co-culture, suggesting the feasibility of this modified in vitro myelination model for myelin-deficit investigation.
PMCID: PMC3343299  PMID: 22574274
CNS; myelination; neuron; oligodendrocyte; rat
17.  Microfluidic compartmentalized co-culture platform for CNS axon myelination research 
Biomedical microdevices  2009;11(6):1145-1153.
This paper presents a circular microfluidic compartmentalized co-culture platform that can be used for central nervous system (CNS) axon myelination research. The microfluidic platform is composed of a soma compartment and an axon/glia compartment connected through arrays of axon-guiding microchannels. Myelin-producing glia, oligodendrocytes (OLs), placed in the axon/glia compartment, interact with only axons but not with neuronal somata confined to the soma compartment, reminiscent to in vivo situation where many axon fibres are myelinated by OLs at distance away from neuronal cell bodies. Primary forebrain neurons from embryonic day 16–18 rats were cultured inside the soma compartment for two weeks to allow them to mature and form extensive axon networks. OL progenitors, isolated from postnatal day 1–2 rat brains, were then added to the axon/glia compartment and co-cultured with neurons for an additional two weeks. The microdevice showed fluidic isolation between the two compartments and successfully isolated neuronal cell bodies and dendrites from axons growing through the arrays of axon-guiding microchannels into the axon/glia compartment. The circular co-culture device developed here showed excellent cell loading characteristics where significant numbers of cells were positioned near the axon-guiding microchannels. This significantly increased the probability of axons crossing these microchannels as demonstrated by the more than 51% of the area of the axon/glia compartment covered with axons two weeks after cell seeding. OL progenitors co-cultured with axons inside the axon/glia compartment successfully differentiated into mature OLs. These results indicate that this device can be used as an excellent in vitro co-culture platform for studying localized axon-glia interaction and signalling.
PMCID: PMC2783938  PMID: 19554452
Cell culture microsystem; neuron co-culture; axon-glia interaction
18.  Myelination of the corpus callosum in male and female rats following complex environment housing during adulthood 
Brain research  2009;1288:9-17.
Myelination is an important process in brain development, and delays or abnormalities in this process have been associated with a number of conditions including autism, developmental delay, attention deficit disorder, and schizophrenia. Myelination can be sensitive to developmental experience; however, although the adult brain remains highly plastic, it is unknown whether myelination continues to be sensitive to experience during adulthood. Male and female rats were socially housed until four months of age, at which time they were moved into either a complex or “enriched” environment (EC) or an isolated condition (IC). Although the area of the splenium (posterior 20% of the callosum, which contains axons from visual cortical neurons) increased by about 10% following two months of EC housing, the area occupied by myelinated axons was not influenced by adult housing condition. Instead, it was the area occupied by glial cell processes and unmyelinated axons which significantly increased following EC housing. Neither the size nor the myelin content of the genu (anterior 15% of the callosum) was sensitive to manipulations of adult housing condition, but males had more area occupied by myelinated axons in both callosal regions. Finally, the inability of two months of complex environment housing during adulthood to impact the number of myelinated axons in the splenium was confirmed in a subset of animals using quantitative electron microscopy. We conclude that the sensitivity of myelination to experience is reduced in adulthood relative to development in both sexes.
PMCID: PMC2737079  PMID: 19596280
enrichment; EC; electron microscopy; sex differences; splenium; genu
19.  Astrocytes Promote Myelination in Response to Electrical Impulses 
Neuron  2006;49(6):823-832.
Myelin, the insulating layers of membrane wrapped around axons by oligodendrocytes, is essential for normal impulse conduction. It forms during late stages of fetal development but continues into early adult life. Myelination correlates with cognitive development and can be regulated by impulse activity through unknown molecular mechanisms. Astrocytes do not form myelin, but these nonneuronal cells can promote myelination in ways that are not understood. Here, we identify a link between myelination, astrocytes, and electrical impulse activity in axons that is mediated by the cytokine leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). These findings show that LIF is released by astrocytes in response to ATP liberated from axons firing action potentials, and LIF promotes myelination by mature oligodendrocytes. This activity-dependent mechanism promoting myelination could regulate myelination according to functional activity or environmental experience and may offer new approaches to treating demyelinating diseases.
PMCID: PMC1474838  PMID: 16543131
20.  Making myelin basic protein -from mRNA transport to localized translation 
In the central nervous system (CNS) of most vertebrates, oligodendrocytes enwrap neuronal axons with extensions of their plasma membrane to form the myelin sheath. Several proteins are characteristically found in myelin of which myelin basic protein (MBP) is the second most abundant one after proteolipid protein. The lack of functional MBP in rodents results in a severe hypomyelinated phenotype in the CNS demonstrating its importance for myelin synthesis. Mbp mRNA is transported from the nucleus to the plasma membrane and is translated locally at the axon–glial contact site. Axonal properties such as diameter or electrical activity influence the degree of myelination. As oligodendrocytes can myelinate many axonal segments with varying properties, localized MBP translation represents an important part of a rapid and axon-tailored synthesis machinery. MBP’s ability to compact cellular membranes may be problematic for the integrity of intracellular membranous organelles and can also explain why MBP is transported in oligodendrocytes in the form of an mRNA rather than as a protein. Here we review the recent findings regarding intracellular transport and signaling mechanisms leading to localized translation of Mbp mRNA in oligodendrocytes. More detailed insights into the MBP synthesis pathway are important for a better understanding of the myelination process and may foster the development of remyelination therapies for demyelinating diseases.
PMCID: PMC3784684  PMID: 24098271
myelin basic protein; hnRNP A2; mRNA localization; oligodendrocyte; Fyn; RNA granule; translational regulation; review
21.  Oligodendroglial p130Cas Is a Target of Fyn Kinase Involved in Process Formation, Cell Migration and Survival 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89423.
Oligodendrocytes are the myelinating glial cells of the central nervous system. In the course of brain development, oligodendrocyte precursor cells migrate, scan the environment and differentiate into mature oligodendrocytes with multiple cellular processes which recognize and ensheath neuronal axons. During differentiation, oligodendrocytes undergo dramatic morphological changes requiring cytoskeletal rearrangements which need to be tightly regulated. The non-receptor tyrosine kinase Fyn plays a central role in oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination. In order to improve our understanding of the role of oligodendroglial Fyn kinase, we have identified Fyn targets in these cells. Purification and mass-spectrometric analysis of tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins in response to overexpressed active Fyn in the oligodendrocyte precursor cell line Oli-neu, yielded the adaptor molecule p130Cas. We analyzed the function of this Fyn target in oligodendroglial cells and observed that reduction of p130Cas levels by siRNA affects process outgrowth, the thickness of cellular processes and migration behavior of Oli-neu cells. Furthermore, long term p130Cas reduction results in decreased cell numbers as a result of increased apoptosis in cultured primary oligodendrocytes. Our data contribute to understanding the molecular events taking place during oligodendrocyte migration and morphological differentiation and have implications for myelin formation.
PMCID: PMC3931761  PMID: 24586768
22.  Cyclin dependent kinase 5 is required for the normal development of oligodendrocytes and myelin formation 
Developmental biology  2013;378(2):94-106.
The development of oligodendrocytes, the myelinating cells of the vertebrate CNS, is regulated by a cohort of growth factors and transcription factors. Less is known about the signaling pathways that integrate extracellular signals with intracellular transcriptional regulators to control oligodendrocyte development. Cyclin dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) and its co-activators play critical roles in the regulation of neuronal differentiation, cortical lamination, neuronal cell migration and axon outgrowth. Here we demonstrate a previously unrecognized function of Cdk5 in regulating oligodendrocyte maturation and myelination. During late embryonic development Cdk5 null animals displayed a reduction in the number of MBP+ cells in the spinal cord, but no difference in the number of OPCs. To determine whether the reduction of oligodendrocytes reflected a cell-intrinsic loss of Cdk5, it was selectively deleted from Olig1+ oligodendrocyte lineage cells. In Olig1Cre/+; Cdk5fl/fl conditional mutants, reduced levels of expression of MBP and PLP mRNA were observed throughout the CNS and ultrastructural analyses demonstrated a significant reduction in the proportion of myelinated axons in the optic nerve and spinal cord. Pharmacological inhibition or RNAi knockdown of Cdk5 in vitro resulted in the reduction in oligodendrocyte maturation, but had no effect on OPC cell proliferation. Conversely, over-expression of Cdk5 promoted oligodendrocyte maturation and enhanced process outgrowth. Consistent with this data, Cdk5−/− oligodendrocytes developed significantly fewer primary processes and branches than control cells. Together, these findings suggest that Cdk5 function as a signaling integrator to regulate oligodendrocyte maturation and myelination.
PMCID: PMC3686511  PMID: 23583582
conditional Cdk5 knockout; OPC; oligodendrocytes; differentiation; myelination
23.  Interaction of PLP with GFP-MAL2 in the Human Oligodendroglial Cell Line HOG 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19388.
The velocity of the nerve impulse conduction of vertebrates relies on the myelin sheath, an electrically insulating layer that surrounds axons in both the central and peripheral nervous systems, enabling saltatory conduction of the action potential. Oligodendrocytes are the myelin-producing glial cells in the central nervous system. A deeper understanding of the molecular basis of myelination and, specifically, of the transport of myelin proteins, will contribute to the search of the aetiology of many dysmyelinating and demyelinating diseases, including multiple sclerosis. Recent investigations suggest that proteolipid protein (PLP), the major myelin protein, could reach myelin sheath by an indirect transport pathway, that is, a transcytotic route via the plasma membrane of the cell body. If PLP transport relies on a transcytotic process, it is reasonable to consider that this myelin protein could be associated with MAL2, a raft protein essential for transcytosis. In this study, carried out with the human oligodendrocytic cell line HOG, we show that PLP colocalized with green fluorescent protein (GFP)-MAL2 after internalization from the plasma membrane. In addition, both immunoprecipitation and immunofluorescence assays, indicated the existence of an interaction between GFP-MAL2 and PLP. Finally, ultrastructural studies demonstrated colocalization of GFP-MAL2 and PLP in vesicles and tubulovesicular structures. Taken together, these results prove for the first time the interaction of PLP and MAL2 in oligodendrocytic cells, supporting the transcytotic model of PLP transport previously suggested.
PMCID: PMC3090389  PMID: 21573057
24.  Preservation of Spectrotemporal Tuning Between the Nucleus Laminaris and the Inferior Colliculus of the Barn Owl 
Journal of neurophysiology  2007;97(5):3544-3553.
Performing sound recognition is a task that requires an encoding of the time-varying spectral structure of the auditory stimulus. Similarly, computation of the interaural time difference (ITD) requires knowledge of the precise timing of the stimulus. Consistent with this, low-level nuclei of birds and mammals implicated in ITD processing encode the ongoing phase of a stimulus. However, the brain areas that follow the binaural convergence for the computation of ITD show a reduced capacity for phase locking. In addition, we have shown that in the barn owl there is a pooling of ITD-responsive neurons to improve the reliability of ITD coding. Here we demonstrate that despite two stages of convergence and an effective loss of phase information, the auditory system of the anesthetized barn owl displays a graceful transition to an envelope coding that preserves the spectrotemporal information throughout the ITD pathway to the neurons of the core of the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus.
PMCID: PMC2532515  PMID: 17314241
25.  A Selective Glial Barrier at Motor Axon Exit Points Prevents Oligodendrocyte Migration from the Spinal Cord 
Nerve roots have specialized transition zones that permit axon extension but limit cell movement between the CNS and PNS. Boundary cap cells prevent motor neuron soma from following their axons into the periphery, thereby contributing to a selective barrier. Transition zones also restrict movement of glial cells. Consequently, axons that cross the CNS–PNS interface are insulated by central and peripheral myelin. The mechanisms that prevent the migratory progenitors of oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells, the myelinating cells of the CNS and PNS, respectively, from crossing transition zones are not known. Here, we show that interactions between myelinating glial cells prevent their movements across the interface. Using in vivo time-lapse imaging in zebrafish we found that, in the absence of Schwann cells, oligodendrocyte progenitors cross ventral root transition zones and myelinate motor axons. These studies reveal that distinct mechanisms regulate the movement of axons, neurons, and glial cells across the CNS–PNS interface.
PMCID: PMC2837368  PMID: 19955371

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