G protein-coupled receptor 17 (GPR17) and the WNT pathway are critical players of oligodendrocyte (OL) differentiation acting as essential timers in developing brain to achieve fully-myelinating cells. However, whether and how these two systems are related to each other is still unknown. Of interest, both factors are dysregulated in developing and adult brain diseases, including white matter injury and cancer, making the understanding of their reciprocal interactions of potential importance for identifying new targets and strategies for myelin repair. Here, by a combined pharmacological and biotechnological approach, we examined regulatory mechanisms linking WNT signaling to GPR17 expression in OLs. We first analyzed the relative expression of mRNAs encoding for GPR17 and the T cell factor/Lymphoid enhancer-binding factor-1 (TCF/LEF) transcription factors of the canonical WNT/β-CATENIN pathway, in PDGFRα+ and O4+ OLs during mouse post-natal development. In O4+ cells, Gpr17 mRNA level peaked at post-natal day 14 and then decreased concomitantly to the physiological uprise of WNT tone, as shown by increased Lef1 mRNA level. The link between WNT signaling and GPR17 expression was further reinforced in vitro in primary PDGFRα+ cells and in Oli-neu cells. High WNT tone impaired OL differentiation and drastically reduced GPR17 mRNA and protein levels. In Oli-neu cells, WNT/β-CATENIN activation repressed Gpr17 promoter activity through both putative WNT response elements (WRE) and upregulation of the inhibitor of DNA-binding protein 2 (Id2). We conclude that the WNT pathway influences OL maturation by repressing GPR17, which could have implications in pathologies characterized by dysregulations of the OL lineage including multiple sclerosis and oligodendroglioma.
Keywords: Development; GPR17; GPR17 promoter; ID2; O4+ immature OL; Oligodendrocytes; PDGFRα+ OPC; TCF/LEF; WNT; White matter injury.
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