The molecular orchestra of the migration of oligodendrocyte precursors during development

Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2005 Sep;49(2):227-41. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2004.12.034.


During development of the central nervous system (CNS), postmitotic cells (including neurons and myelin-generating cells, the oligodendrocytes) migrate from the germinal areas of the neural tube where they originate to their final destination sites. The migration of neurons during development has been extensively studied and has been the topic of detailed reviews. The migration of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) is also an extremely complex and precise event, with a widespread migration of OPCs across many regions to colonize the entire CNS. Different mechanisms have been shown to direct the migration of OPCs, among them contact-mediated mechanisms (adhesion molecules) and long-range cues (chemotropic molecules). This review provides a detailed overview and discussion of the cellular and molecular basis of OPCs migration during development. Because it has been shown that neuronal and oligodendroglial lineages share some of these mechanisms, we briefly summarize similarities and differences between these two types of neural cells. We also summarize the changes in the normal migration of OPCs during development that would be relevant for different neurological diseases (including demyelinating diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, and glial cancers). We also examine the relevance of these migratory properties of the oligondendrocytic cell lineage for the repair of neural damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System / cytology*
  • Central Nervous System / growth & development
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / physiology*