NG2 expression in microglial cells affects the expression of neurotrophic and proinflammatory factors by regulating FAK phosphorylation

Sci Rep. 2016 Jun 16;6:27983. doi: 10.1038/srep27983.


Neural/glial antigen 2 (NG2), a chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan, is significantly upregulated in a subset of glial cells in the facial motor nucleus (FMN) following CNS injury. NG2 is reported to promote the resulting inflammatory reaction, however, the mechanism by which NG2 mediates these effects is yet to be determined. In this study, we examined the changes in NG2 expressing microglial cells in the FMN in response to facial nerve axotomy (FNA) in mice. Our findings indicated that NG2 expression was progressively induced and upregulated specifically in the ipsilateral facial nucleus following FNA. To further investigate the effects of NG2 expression, in vivo studies in NG2-knockout mice and in vitro studies in rat microglial cells transfected with NG2 shRNAs were performed. Abolition of NG2 expression both in vitro and in vivo resulted in increased expression of neurotrophic factors (nerve growth factor and glial derived neurotrophic factor), decreased expression of inflammatory mediators (tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β) and decreased apoptosis in the ipsilateral facial nucleus in response to FNA. Furthermore, we demonstrated the role of FAK in these NG2-induced effects. Taken together, our findings suggest that NG2 expression mediates inflammatory reactions and neurodegeneration in microglial cells in response to CNS injury, potentially by regulating FAK phosphorylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Facial Nerve Injuries / pathology
  • Facial Nucleus / physiology
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1 / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism*
  • Rats


  • Antigens
  • Proteoglycans
  • chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1
  • Ptk2 protein, mouse