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Brain Res Rev. 2010 May;63(1-2):72-82. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2009.12.006. Epub 2010 Jan 4.

NG2 cells: Properties, progeny and origin.

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  • 1Molecular Cell Biology, Department of Biology, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, 55128 Mainz, Germany.


The NG2 proteoglycan is a type 1-transmembrane protein expressed by a range of cell types within and outside the mammalian nervous system. NG2-expressing (NG2) cells are found in grey and white matter tracts of the developing and adult CNS and have previously been assumed to represent oligodendrocyte precursor cells: new work using transgenic mice has shown that NG2 cells generate oligodendrocytes, protoplasmic astrocytes and in some instances neurons in vivo. NG2 cells express GABAA receptors and the AMPA subtype of glutamate receptors. They make intimate contact to neurons prior to myelinating axons and also form electron-dense synaptic specialisations with axons in the cerebellum, cortex and hippocampus and with non-myelinated axons in the corpus callosum. These synaptic NG2 cells respond to neuronal release of glutamate and GABA. This neuron-glia interaction may thus regulate the differentiation and proliferation of NG2 cells. The C-terminal PDZ-binding motif of the NG2 protein binds several PDZ proteins including Mupp1, Syntenin and the Glutamate Receptor Interacting Protein (GRIP). Since GRIP can bind subunits of the AMPA receptors expressed by NG2 cells, the interaction between GRIP and NG2 may orientate the glial AMPA receptors towards sites of neuronal glutamate release. The origin, heterogeneity and function of NG2 cells as modulators of the neuronal network are important incompletely resolved questions.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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