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Glia. 2011 Apr;59(4):540-53. doi: 10.1002/glia.21122. Epub 2011 Jan 6.

GSK3β negatively regulates oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination in vivo.

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Institute of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.


Glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) is an essential integrating molecule for multiple proliferation and differentiation signals that regulate cell fate. Here, we have examined the effects of inhibiting GSK3β on the development of oligodendrocytes (OLs) from their oligodendrocyte precursors (OP) in vivo by injection into the lateral ventricle of postnatal mice and ex vivo in organotypic cultures of isolated intact rodent optic nerve. Our results show that a range of GSK3β inhibitors (ARA-014418, lithium, indirubin, and L803-mt) increase OPs and OLs and promote myelination. Inhibition of GSK3β stimulates OP proliferation and is prosurvival and antiapoptotic. The effects of GSK3β inhibition in OPs is via the canonical Wnt signaling pathway by stimulating nuclear translocation of β-catenin. However, direct comparison of the effects of Wnt3a and GSK3β inhibition in optic nerves shows that they have opposing actions on OLs, whereby GSK3β inhibition strikingly increases OL differentiation, whereas Wnt3a inhibits OL differentiation. Notably, GSK3β inhibition overrides the negative effects of Wnt3a on OLs, indicating novel GSK3β signaling mechanisms that negatively regulate OL differentiation. We identify that two mechanisms of GSK3β inhibition are to stimulate cAMP response element binding (CREB) and decrease Notch1 signaling, which positively and negatively regulate OL differentiation and myelination, respectively. A key finding is that GSK3β inhibition has equivalent effects in the adult and stimulates the regeneration of OLs and remyelination following chemically induced demyelination. This study identifies GSK3β as a profound negative regulator of OL differentiation that contributes to inefficient regeneration of OLs and myelin repair in demyelination.

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