The oligodendrocyte maturation process and the transition from the pre-myelinating to the myelinating state are extremely important during development and in pathology. In the present study, we have investigated the role of the cell adhesion molecule CNTN2/TAG-1 on oligodendrocyte proliferation, differentiation, myelination, and function during development and under pathological conditions. With the combination of in vivo, in vitro, ultrastructural, and electrophysiological methods, we have mapped the expression of CNTN2 protein in the oligodendrocyte lineage during the different stages of myelination and its involvement on oligodendrocyte maturation, branching, myelin-gene expression, myelination, and axonal function. The cuprizone model of central nervous system demyelination was further used to assess CNTN2 in pathology. During development, CNTN2 can transiently affect the expression levels of myelin and myelin-regulating genes, while its absence results in reduced oligodendrocyte branching, hypomyelination of fiber tracts and impaired axonal conduction. In pathology, CNTN2 absence does not affect the extent of de- and remyelination. However during remyelination, a novel, CNTN2-independent mechanism is revealed that is able to recluster voltage gated potassium channels (VGKCs) resulting in the improvement of fiber conduction.
- Journal Article