Oligodendrocytes are the myelin-forming cells of the central nervous system. Over the last decade, their development in the embryonic brain and spinal cord has been documented following the discovery of early oligodendroglial markers. These early expressed oligodendroglial genes nevertheless show differences in their spatiotemporal pattern of expression and it is not yet clear if their expression is linked in a linear way. This review highlights the common themes underlying the spatiotemporal aspects of oligodendrogenesis in chick and rodent brain and discusses some recent advances in the knowledge of the cell lineage expressing plp, one of the early oligodendroglial genes. We suggest a model of oligodendroglial commitment whereby definitive oligodendroglial progenitor formation is preceded by a primitive neuroglial progenitor stage and whereby different oligodendrocyte lineages might segregate from either plp-positive or plp-negative primitive progenitor cells.
Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel