The non-receptor protein tyrosine kinase Fyn, which is a member of the Src family of kinases, has been shown to be essential for normal myelination and has been suggested to play a role in oligodendrocyte development. However, oligodendrocyte development has not been studied directly in cells lacking Fyn. Additionally, because Fyn is expressed in neurons as well as oligodendrocytes, it is possible that normal myelination requires Fyn expression in neurons but not in oligodendrocytes. To address these issues, we analyzed the development of oligodendrocytes in neuron-free glial cell cultures from fyn(-/-) mice that express no Fyn protein. We observed that oligodendrocytes develop to the stage where they elaborate an extensive network of membranous processes and express the antigenic components of mature oligodendrocytes in the complete absence of Fyn. However, as compared with fyn(+/+) controls, fewer oligodendroglia developed in fyn(-/-) cell cultures, and a smaller proportion of them matured to the stage characterized by a high degree of morphological complexity. In addition, we found that insulin-like growth factor-I, a potent stimulator of oligodendrocyte development, failed to stimulate morphological maturation of fyn(-/-) oligodendroglia. The pyrazolopyrimidine PP2, believed to be a selective inhibitor of Fyn, did not prevent the development of morphologically complex oligodendrocytes. Unexpectedly, however, it was toxic to both fyn(+/+) and fyn(-/-) glial cells, indicating that this class of inhibitors can have significant effects that are independent of Fyn.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.