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Glia. 2015 Nov;63(11):2040-2057. doi: 10.1002/glia.22876. Epub 2015 Jun 29.

Enteric glia express proteolipid protein 1 and are a transcriptionally unique population of glia in the mammalian nervous system.

Author information

1
F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Program, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
2
Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
3
Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University, New York.
4
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University, New York.
5
Department of Pathology, Columbia University, New York.
6
Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
7
Kresge Hearing Research Institute, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Abstract

In the enteric nervous system (ENS), glia outnumber neurons by 4-fold and form an extensive network throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Growing evidence for the essential role of enteric glia in bowel function makes it imperative to understand better their molecular marker expression and how they relate to glia in the rest of the nervous system. We analyzed expression of markers of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the ENS and found, unexpectedly, that proteolipid protein 1 (PLP1) is specifically expressed by glia in adult mouse intestine. PLP1 and S100β are the markers most widely expressed by enteric glia, while glial fibrillary acidic protein expression is more restricted. Marker expression in addition to cellular location and morphology distinguishes a specific subpopulation of intramuscular enteric glia, suggesting that a combinatorial code of molecular markers can be used to identify distinct subtypes. To assess the similarity between enteric and extraenteric glia, we performed RNA sequencing analysis on PLP1-expressing cells in the mouse intestine and compared their gene expression pattern to that of other types of glia. This analysis shows that enteric glia are transcriptionally unique and distinct from other cell types in the nervous system. Enteric glia express many genes characteristic of the myelinating glia, Schwann cells and oligodendrocytes, although there is no evidence of myelination in the murine ENS. GLIA 2015;63:2040-2057.

KEYWORDS:

RNA-Seq; enteric nervous system; gastrointestinal tract; neuroglia

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