We generated a transgenic mouse expressing the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) under the control of the 2'-3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase (CNP) promoter. EGFP(+) cells were visualized in live tissue throughout embryonic and postnatal development. Immunohistochemical analysis in brain tissue and in sciatic nerve demonstrated that EGFP expression was restricted to cells of the oligodendrocyte and Schwann cell lineages. EGFP was also strongly expressed in "adult" oligodendrocyte progenitors (OPs) and in gray matter oligodendrocytes. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting allowed high-yield purification of EGFP(+) oligodendrocyte-lineage cells from transgenic brains. Electrophysiological patch clamp recordings of EGFP(+) cells in situ demonstrated that OP cells displayed large outward tetraethylammonium (TEA)-sensitive K(+) currents and very small inward currents, whereas mature oligodendrocytes were characterized by expression of large inward currents and small outward K(+) currents. The proliferation rate of EGFP(+) cells in developing white matter decreased with the age of the animals and was strongly inhibited by TEA. Oligodendrocyte development and physiology can be studied in live tissue of CNP-EGFP transgenic mice, which represent a source of pure EGFP(+) oligodendrocyte-lineage cells throughout development.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.