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Neuroscience. 2014 Sep 12;276:98-108. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.08.062. Epub 2013 Sep 12.

On the resemblance of synapse formation and CNS myelination.

Author information

1
Centre for Neuroregeneration, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK; MS Society Centre for Translational Research, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK; Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK. Electronic address: rafael.g.almeida@ed.ac.uk.
2
Centre for Neuroregeneration, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK; MS Society Centre for Translational Research, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK; Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK. Electronic address: david.lyons@ed.ac.uk.

Abstract

The myelination of axons in the central nervous system (CNS) is essential for nervous system formation, function and health. CNS myelination continues well into adulthood, but not all axons become myelinated. Unlike the peripheral nervous system, where we know of numerous axon-glial signals required for myelination, we have a poor understanding of the nature or identity of such molecules that regulate which axons are myelinated in the CNS. Recent studies have started to elucidate cell behavior during myelination in vivo and indicate that the choice of which axons are myelinated is made prior to myelin sheath generation. Here we propose that interactions between axons and the exploratory processes of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) lead to myelination and may be similar to those between dendrites and axons that prefigure and lead to synapse formation. Indeed axons and OPCs form synapses with striking resemblance to those of neurons, suggesting a similar mode of formation. We discuss families of molecules with specific functions at different stages of synapse formation and address studies that implicate the same factors during axon-OPC synapse formation and myelination. We also address the possibility that the function of such synapses might directly regulate the myelinating behavior of oligodendrocyte processes in vivo. In the future it may be of benefit to consider these similarities when taking a candidate-based approach to dissect mechanisms of CNS myelination.

KEYWORDS:

axon; dendrite; oligodendrocyte; oligodendrocyte precursor cell; synapse

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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