Novel tools and investigative approaches for the study of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (NG2-Glia) in CNS development and disease.
journal contributionposted on 26.05.2021, 08:19 by Christophe Galichet, Richard W Clayton, Robin Lovell-Badge
Oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs), also referred to as NG2-glia, are the most proliferative cell type in the adult central nervous system. While the primary role of OPCs is to serve as progenitors for oligodendrocytes, in recent years, it has become increasingly clear that OPCs fulfil a number of other functions. Indeed, independent of their role as stem cells, it is evident that OPCs can regulate the metabolic environment, directly interact with and modulate neuronal function, maintain the blood brain barrier (BBB) and regulate inflammation. In this review article, we discuss the state-of-the-art tools and investigative approaches being used to characterize the biology and function of OPCs. From functional genetic investigation to single cell sequencing and from lineage tracing to functional imaging, we discuss the important discoveries uncovered by these techniques, such as functional and spatial OPC heterogeneity, novel OPC marker genes, the interaction of OPCs with other cells types, and how OPCs integrate and respond to signals from neighboring cells. Finally, we review the use of in vitro assay to assess OPC functions. These methodologies promise to lead to ever greater understanding of this enigmatic cell type, which in turn will shed light on the pathogenesis and potential treatment strategies for a number of diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and gliomas.