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Glia. 2009 Jul;57(9):1000-13. doi: 10.1002/glia.20824.

Subtype-specific oligodendrocyte dynamics in organotypic culture.

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  • 1Centre for Research in Neuroscience, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The morphogenesis of oligodendrocytes is essential for central nervous system myelin formation and the rapid propagation of axon potentials through saltatory conduction. However, the discrete cellular events involved in the three-dimensional maturation of oligodendrocytes remain to be fully described. To address this, we followed the developmental stages of oligodendrocytes in mouse organotypic hippocampal slice cultures for 7-60 days using viral-mediated gene delivery of membrane-targeted fluorescent proteins. Using static and time-lapse confocal imaging, we find that postmigratory NG2-expressing cells exhibit slow anatomical reorganization over the course of hours. This is in direct contrast to oligodendrocytes that take on a promyelinating and transitional phenotype, which display a more complex morphology and undergo dramatic actin-dependent structural remodeling over just minutes. More mature myelinating oligodendrocytes, which have pruned most of their processes, still retain some local remodeling behavior at developing internodes, but in general, revert to a relatively stable state. Our findings provide a detailed characterization of cellular events that help shape oligodendrocyte morphology and likely participate in neuron-glial cell interactions and the process of myelination.

(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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