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Brain Res Bull. 1994;35(4):359-65.

How do oligodendrocytes ensheath and myelinate nerve fibers?

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Keio University, School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


Oligodendrocyte precursor cells were cultured from newborn rat brain and studied their differentiation and proliferation. They have identified type-1, type-2, and type-3 oligodendrocytes based on the expression of characteristic marker molecules that frequently used to stage oligodendrocyte development. The type-3 oligodendrocytes were observed to send but tentative that locate axons prior to myelination. These processes terminate in lamellipodia, which eventually enwrap the axon and begin the myelination process with several steps. At the first stage, ruffling is immediately induced at the lamellipodia with filopodia made of oligodendrocyte processes, and the axon is contacted several times; then process retraction occurs to reform the filopodial and lamellipodial parts prior to the onset of the myelination. Second, after filopodial movements and lamellipodial ruffling occur again, their morphology is dramatically changed to become three thick filopodia that anchor to the axon. Finally, lamellipodial ruffling parts ripple, the angle between the position of the resting filopodium and the axon change, depending on the start of axonal movement, and the lamellipodia turn around the axon like a transverse wave with one stroke of the brush, as observed on the video screen, and their rolling membrane changes to the bursting form within minutes in real time.

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