Constitutive EGFR signaling in oligodendrocyte progenitors leads to diffuse hyperplasia in postnatal white matter

J Neurosci. 2008 Jan 23;28(4):914-22. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4327-07.2008.


Gliogenesis requires the careful orchestration of migration, differentiation, and proliferation of progenitors. Signaling through the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has been implicated in regulating these processes in a variety of cell types, including neural progenitors. By retroviral infection, we constitutively expressed an EGFR-GFP fusion protein in white matter glial progenitors at postnatal day 3 of the rat forebrain in vivo and analyzed the development of these cells over the subsequent 15 weeks. EGFR-GFP+ cells remained proliferative and migratory, gradually populating the brains ipsilateral and contralateral to the side of viral infection, but never differentiated into mature glia. The accumulation of these cells doubled the total cell density in white matter and led to a 10-fold increase in the abundance of glial progenitors, giving rise to a progenitor "hyperplasia." The marker profile of infected cells, NG2+, olig2+, PDGFR-alpha+, nestin+, GFAP-, and CC1-, indicated a close resemblance to oligodendrocyte progenitors. Positive immunostaining for phosphorylated EGFR colocalized with punctate accumulation of EGFR-GFP, indicating that a subset of receptors was engaged in active signaling. Furthermore, EGF was required to observe phospho-tyrosine EGFR immunostaining of glial progenitors in culture. These observations suggest that constitutive EGFR expression can inhibit glial differentiation, but requires ligand as well.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cells, Cultured
  • ErbB Receptors / biosynthesis*
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Hyperplasia / metabolism
  • Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / metabolism
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology*
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / pathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / pathology*


  • ErbB Receptors