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Glia. 2019 Jan;67(1):160-170. doi: 10.1002/glia.23535. Epub 2018 Nov 14.

Rescuing the negative impact of human endogenous retrovirus envelope protein on oligodendroglial differentiation and myelination.

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Department of Neurology, Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany.
GeNeuro, Chemin du Pré-Fleuri 3, Geneva, Switzerland.


Remyelination in the adult CNS depends on activation, differentiation, and functional integration of resident oligodendroglial precursor cells (OPCs) and constitutes the only spontaneous neuroregenerative process able to compensate for functional deficits upon loss of oligodendrocytes and myelin sheaths as it is observed in multiple sclerosis. The proteins encoded by p57kip2- and by human endogenous retrovirus type W (pHERV-W) envelope genes were previously identified as negative regulators of OPC maturation. We here focused on the activity of the ENV protein and investigated how it can be neutralized for an improved myelin repair. We could demonstrate that myelination in vitro is severely affected by this protein but that application of an anti-ENV neutralizing antibody, currently investigated in clinical trials, can rescue the generation of internodes. We then compared p57kip2 and ENV dependent inhibitory mechanisms and found that a dominant negative version of the p57kip2 protein can equally save OPCs from myelination failure in response to ENV-mediated TLR4 activation. Additional experiments addressing p57kip2's underlying mode of action revealed a direct interaction with ATP6v1d, a central component of a vascular ATPase. Its pharmacological blocking was then shown to exert an analogous myelination rescue effect in presence of the ENV protein. Therefore, our study provides mechanistic insights into oligodendroglial inhibition processes and presents three different means to counteract the anti-myelination effect of the ENV protein. These observations are therefore of interest in light of understanding the complexity of the numerous oligodendroglial inhibitors and might promote the establishment of novel regenerative therapies.


ENV; GNbAC1; HERV-W; MSRV; inhibitor; multiple sclerosis; myelin repair; neuroregeneration; oligodendrocyte; p57kip2; pHERV-W; remyelination; toll-like receptor


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