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Development. 1989 Mar;105(3):595-603.

PDGF receptors on cells of the oligodendrocyte-type-2 astrocyte (O-2A) cell lineage.

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  • 1MRC Developmental Neurobiology Programme, University College London, UK.


It has been shown previously that cultures of rat optic nerve contain three types of macroglial cells--oligodendrocytes and two types of astrocytes. Type-1 astrocytes develop from their own precursor cells beginning before birth, while oligodendrocytes and type-2 astrocytes develop postnatally from a common bipotential precursor called the O-2A progenitor cell. Proliferating O-2A progenitor cells give rise to postmitotic oligodendrocytes beginning around birth, and to type-2 astrocytes beginning in the second postnatal week. Studies in vitro have suggested that platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), secreted by type-1 astrocytes, plays an important part in timing oligodendrocyte development: PDGF seems to keep O-2A progenitor cells proliferating until an intrinsic clock in the progenitor cells initiates the process leading to oligodendrocyte differentiation. The clock apparently determines when a progenitor cell becomes unresponsive to PDGF, at which point the cell stops dividing and, as a consequence, automatically differentiates into an oligodendrocyte. Here we have used radiolabelled PDGF to show that O-2A progenitor cells have PDGF receptors, suggesting that these cells respond directly to PDGF. The receptors resemble the type A PDGF receptor previously described on human fibroblasts and are initially retained when progenitor cells stop dividing and develop in vitro into oligodendrocytes. The latter finding indicates that receptor loss is not the reason that progenitor cells initially become mitotically unresponsive to PDGF.

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