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posted on 21.10.2021, 05:17 authored by Na Zhao, Wenhui Huang, Bogdan Cãtãlin, Anja Scheller, Frank Kirchhoff

NG2 (nerve/glial antigen 2) glia are uniformly distributed in the gray and white matter of the central nervous system (CNS). They are the major proliferating cells in the brain and can differentiate into oligodendrocytes. NG2 glia do not only receive synaptic input from excitatory and inhibitory neurons, but also secrete growth factors and cytokines, modulating CNS homeostasis. They express several receptors and ion channels that play a role in rapidly responding upon synaptic signals and generating fast feedback, potentially regulating their own properties. Ca2+ influx via voltage-gated Ca2+ channels (VGCCs) induces an intracellular Ca2+ rise initiating a series of cellular activities. We confirmed that NG2 glia express L-type VGCCs in the white and gray matter during CNS development, particularly in the early postnatal stage. However, the function of L-type VGCCs in NG2 glia remains elusive. Therefore, we deleted L-type VGCC subtypes Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 genes conditionally in NG2 glia by crossbreeding NG2-CreERT2 knock-in mice to floxed Cav1.2 and flexed Cav1.3 transgenic mice. Our results showed that ablation of Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 strongly inhibited the proliferation of cortical NG2 glia, while differentiation in white and gray matter was not affected. As a consequence, no difference on myelination could be detected in various brain regions. In addition, we observed morphological alterations of the nodes of Ranvier induced by VGCC-deficient NG2 glia, i.e., shortened paired paranodes in the corpus callosum. Furthermore, deletion of Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 largely eliminated N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-dependent long-term depression (LTD) and potentiation in the hippocampus while the synaptic input to NG2 glia from axons remained unaltered. We conclude that L-type VGCCs of NG2 glia are essential for cell proliferation and proper structural organization of nodes of Ranvier, but not for differentiation and myelin compaction. In addition, L-type VGCCs of NG2 glia contribute to the regulation of long-term neuronal plasticity.

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