Identification of a novel family of oligodendrocyte lineage-specific basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors

Neuron. 2000 Feb;25(2):331-43. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80898-3.


Basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors have been identified for neurons and their precursors but not for glial cells. We have identified two bHLH factors, Oligo1 and Oligo2, that are specifically expressed in zones of neuroepithelium from which oligodendrocyte precursors emerge, as well as in the precursors themselves. Expression of Oligo2 in the spinal cord precedes that of platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRalpha), the earliest known marker of oligodendrocyte precursors, by several days. Ectopic expression of Oligo2 in vivo causes ectopic expression of Sox10, an HMG-box transcription factor expressed in oligodendrocyte and other glial precursors. These data identify Oligo genes as the earliest known markers of oligodendrocyte lineage determination and suggest they play a causal role in this process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Cell Lineage / genetics
  • Chick Embryo
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Library
  • Genetic Testing
  • Helix-Loop-Helix Motifs / genetics*
  • High Mobility Group Proteins / genetics
  • Mesencephalon / cytology
  • Mesencephalon / embryology
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Oligodendrocyte Transcription Factor 2
  • Oligodendroglia / chemistry*
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology
  • Rhombencephalon / cytology
  • Rhombencephalon / embryology
  • SOXE Transcription Factors
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / embryology
  • Stem Cells / chemistry
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / physiology
  • Transcription Factors


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • High Mobility Group Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • OLIG1 protein, human
  • Olig1 protein, mouse
  • Olig2 protein, mouse
  • Oligodendrocyte Transcription Factor 2
  • SOXE Transcription Factors
  • Sox10 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF232928
  • GENBANK/AF232929