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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41237. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041237. Epub 2012 Jul 20.

Oligodendrocyte precursor cell transplantation into organotypic cerebellar shiverer slices: a model to study myelination and myelin maintenance.

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Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Current in vitro models to investigate the consequence of oligodendrocyte-specific loss-of-function mutations on myelination are primarily limited to co-culture experiments, which do not accurately recapitulate the complex in vivo environment. Here, we describe the development of an in vitro model of myelination and myelin maintenance in which oligodendrocyte precursor cells are transplanted into organotypic cerebellar slice cultures derived from dysmyelinated shiverer mice. Compared to neuron-oligodendrocyte co-cultures, organotypic slices more closely mimic the environment in vivo, while utilizing a genetic background that allows for straight-forward identification of myelin generated by transplanted cells. We show at the ultrastructural level that the myelin generated by wild-type transplanted oligodendrocytes is compact and terminates in cytoplasmic loops that form paranodal junctions with the axon. This myelination results in the appropriate sequestering of axonal proteins into specialized domains surrounding the nodes of Ranvier. We also demonstrate the applicability of this approach for xenograft transplantation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells derived from rat or human sources. This method provides a time-efficient and cost-effective adjunct to conditional knockout mouse lines or in vivo transplantation models to study oligodendrocyte-specific loss-of-function mutations. Furthermore, the approach can be readily used to assess the effect of pharmacological manipulations on myelin, providing a tool to better understand myelination and develop effective therapeutic strategies to treat myelin-related diseases.

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