Background: In vertebrates, the myelin sheath is essential for efficient propagation of action potentials along the axon shaft. Oligodendrocytes are the cells of the central nervous system that create myelin sheaths. During embryogenesis, ventral neural tube precursors give rise to oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, which divide and migrate throughout the central nervous system. This study aimed to investigate mechanisms that regulate oligodendrocyte progenitor cell formation.
Methodology/principal findings: By conducting a mutagenesis screen in transgenic zebrafish, we identified a mutation, designated vu166, by an apparent reduction in the number of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in the dorsal spinal cord. We subsequently determined that vu166 is an allele of pescadillo, a gene known to play a role in ribosome biogenesis and cell proliferation. We found that pescadillo function is required for both the proper number of oligodendrocyte progenitors to form, by regulating cell cycle progression, and for normal levels of myelin gene expression.
Conclusions/significance: Our data provide evidence that neural precursors require pes function to progress through the cell cycle and produce oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and for oligodendrocyte differentiation.