Clonal analysis of oligodendrocyte development in culture: evidence for a developmental clock that counts cell divisions

Cell. 1986 Mar 14;44(5):773-9. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(86)90843-3.


The clonal development of oligodendrocytes was studied by culturing individual oligodendrocyte--type-2 astrocyte (O-2A) progenitor cells on monolayers of type-1 astrocytes, which stimulate O-2A progenitor cells to divide. Oligodendrocytes developed by a proliferative lineage in which clonal progeny differentiated together after a number of cell divisions. Most O-2A progenitor cells had similar cell cycle times (1-2 days), but their proliferative capacity varied greatly: some divided only once while others divided up to eight times before differentiating. sister cells behaved similarly when recultured separately on astrocyte monolayers. These findings are consistent with the cell-division-counting hypothesis previously proposed to explain the timing of oligodendrocyte differentiation. They also unambiguously establish the phenotype of O-2A progenitor cells in vitro and demonstrate that these cells respond directly to growth factors produced by type-1 astrocyte monolayers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Biological Clocks
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Clone Cells / cytology
  • Growth Substances / physiology
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology*
  • Optic Nerve / cytology
  • Rats


  • Growth Substances