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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Sep 1989; 86(17): 6807–6811.
PMCID: PMC297935

Differential regulation of oligodendrocyte markers by glucocorticoids: post-transcriptional regulation of both proteolipid protein and myelin basic protein and transcriptional regulation of glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase.


During neonatal development glucocorticoids potentiate oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelinogenesis by regulating the expression of myelin basic protein, proteolipid protein, and glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase (sn-glycerol-3-phosphate: NAD+ 2-oxidoreductase, EC The actual locus at which hydrocortisone exerts its developmental influence on glial physiology is, however, not well understood. Glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase is glucocorticoid-inducible in oligodendrocytes at all stages of development both in vivo and in vitro. In newborn rat cerebral cultures, between 9 and 15 days in vitro, a 2- to 3-fold increase in myelin basic protein and proteolipid protein mRNA levels occurs in oligodendrocytes within 12 hr of hydrocortisone treatment. Immunostaining demonstrates that this increase in mRNAs is followed by a 2- to 3-fold increase in the protein levels within 24 hr. In vitro transcription assays performed with oligodendrocyte nuclei show an 11-fold increase in the transcriptional activity of glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase in response to hydrocortisone but no increase in transcription of myelin basic protein or proteolipid protein. These results indicate that during early myelinogenesis, glucocorticoids influence the expression of key oligodendroglial markers by different processes: The expression of glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase is regulated at the transcriptional level, whereas the expression of myelin basic protein and proteolipid protein is modulated via a different, yet uncharacterized, mechanism involving post-transcriptional regulation.

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