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J Neurosci. 1987 Sep;7(9):2737-44.

Bipotential glial precursor cells of the optic nerve express the NG2 proteoglycan.


We have studied the expression of the NG2 chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan on bipotential glial precursor cells in cultures of postnatal rat optic nerve. Purified populations of these precursor cells were prepared by panning dissociated optic nerve cells on dishes coated with monoclonal A2B5 antibody. Using immunofluorescence double staining, we found that NG2 was present on almost 95% of the purified A2B5+ precursor cells. The NG2 core protein from optic nerve cells was identified by immune precipitation and PAGE and was found to be identical to the 300,000 Da NG2 core protein from a clonal rat cell line B49. Over a culture period of 5 d in medium containing 10% fetal calf serum, more than 80% of the NG2+ precursor cells acquired the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), an astrocyte-specific marker. Under these conditions, fewer than 10% of the NG2+ cells expressed galactocerebroside (GC), an oligodendrocyte-specific marker. These GFAP+GC- type II astrocytes continued to express the NG2 antigen for up to 10 d in culture. During a 5 d culture period in hormonally supplemented, serum-free medium, fewer than 15% of the NG2+ cells expressed GFAP, while up to 40% expressed GC. The NG2 antigen continued to be expressed for only a short period of time by these GFAP-GC+ oligodendrocytes, so that mature oligodendrocytes in the cultures became NG2-. These results support our previous suggestion that the NG2 antigen is found on a class of neural cells that can differentiate along more than one pathway.

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