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Elife. 2016 Sep 19;5. pii: e16262. doi: 10.7554/eLife.16262.

NG2 glial cells integrate synaptic input in global and dendritic calcium signals.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University Clinic Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
Department of Neuropathology, University Clinic Bonn, Bonn, Germany.


Synaptic signaling to NG2-expressing oligodendrocyte precursor cells (NG2 cells) could be key to rendering myelination of axons dependent on neuronal activity, but it has remained unclear whether NG2 glial cells integrate and respond to synaptic input. Here we show that NG2 cells perform linear integration of glutamatergic synaptic inputs and respond with increasing dendritic calcium elevations. Synaptic activity induces rapid Ca2+ signals mediated by low-voltage activated Ca2+ channels under strict inhibitory control of voltage-gated A-type K+ channels. Ca2+ signals can be global and originate throughout the cell. However, voltage-gated channels are also found in thin dendrites which act as compartmentalized processing units and generate local calcium transients. Taken together, the activity-dependent control of Ca2+ signals by A-type channels and the global versus local signaling domains make intracellular Ca2+ in NG2 cells a prime signaling molecule to transform neurotransmitter release into activity-dependent myelination.


A-type potassium channels; NG2 cells; calcium signaling; mouse; neuroscience; synaptic integration

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