Dynamic expression of basic helix-loop-helix Olig family members: implication of Olig2 in neuron and oligodendrocyte differentiation and identification of a new member, Olig3

Mech Dev. 2000 Dec;99(1-2):143-8. doi: 10.1016/s0925-4773(00)00466-4.


Basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors have been shown to be essential for specification of various cell types. Here, we describe a novel bHLH family consisting of three members, two of which (Olig1, Olig2) are expressed in a nervous tissue-specific manner, whereas the third, Olig3 is found mainly in non-neural tissues. Olig1 and Olig2, which recently have been implicated in oligodendrogenesis, are expressed in the region of the ventral ventricular zone of late embryonic spinal cord where oligodendrocyte progenitors appear. In the embryonic brain, the Olig2 expression domain is broader than that of Olig1 and does not overlap with an oligodendrocyte progenitor marker, CNP. Furthermore, Olig2 is expressed in most cells in the ventral half of the early embryonic spinal cord, which do not yet express an early neuronal marker TuJ1. These results indicate that Olig2 expression is not limited to the oligodendrocyte lineage but includes immature neuronal progenitors and multipotential neuron/glia progenitors as well as embryonic olfactory neurons.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Cell Lineage
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Haplotypes
  • Helix-Loop-Helix Motifs
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Oligodendrocyte Transcription Factor 2
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism*
  • Phylogeny
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • ASCL1 protein, human
  • Ascl1 protein, mouse
  • Ascl1 protein, rat
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • OLIG1 protein, human
  • OLIG2 protein, human
  • Olig1 protein, mouse
  • Olig1 protein, rat
  • Olig2 protein, mouse
  • Olig3 protein, mouse
  • Oligodendrocyte Transcription Factor 2
  • Transcription Factors

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AB038696
  • GENBANK/AB038697
  • GENBANK/AB038698