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J Neurosci Res. 2000 Feb 1;59(3):413-20.

Local control of oligodendrocyte development in isolated dorsal mouse spinal cord.

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Department of Neurosciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4975, USA.


The earliest oligodendrocyte precursors have been proposed to arise in the ventral ventricular zone of the embryonic thoraco-lumbar spinal cord and subsequently migrate to populate dorsal spinal cord. Using the expression of O4 immunoreactivity to define cells of the oligodendrocyte lineage, the development of oligodendrocytes in different regions of the mouse spinal cord was assayed. Consistent with earlier studies in other species, isolated explants of E11 ventral but not dorsal mouse spinal cord developed oligodendrocytes after 7 days in vitro. In contrast, in cultures derived from E13 embryos O4(+) oligodendrocytes developed in both ventral and dorsal cultures after 5 days in vitro. These data are consistent with a ventral to dorsal migration of committed oligodendrocyte progenitors occurring between E11 and E13. Although isolated early embryonic dorsal spinal cord does not give rise to oligodendrocytes in short term cultures, in long term cultures O4(+) cells develop in a subset of dorsal explants. After 10 days in vitro approximately 25% of both cervical and thoraco-lumbar E11 derived dorsal explants contained significant numbers of O4(+) cells. The molecular requirements for the dorsally-derived oligodendrocytes was similar to that in ventral cord. The appearance of O4(+) cells was dependent on sonic hedgehog and enhanced by neuregulin. These data suggest that early embryonic dorsal mouse spinal cord has an independent potential to generate oligodendrocytes under appropriate conditions. Whether this potential is realized during normal spinal cord development is currently unknown.

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