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Activin receptors regulate the oligodendrocyte lineage in health and disease.

TitleActivin receptors regulate the oligodendrocyte lineage in health and disease.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsDillenburg A, Ireland G, Holloway RK, Davies CL, Evans FL, Swire M, Bechler ME, Soong D, Yuen TJ, Su GH, Becher J-C, Smith C, Williams AC, Miron VE
JournalActa Neuropathol
Date Published2018 Jun

The most prevalent neurological disorders of myelin include perinatal brain injury leading to cerebral palsy in infants and multiple sclerosis in adults. Although these disorders have distinct etiologies, they share a common neuropathological feature of failed progenitor differentiation into myelin-producing oligodendrocytes and lack of myelin, for which there is an unmet clinical need. Here, we reveal that a molecular pathology common to both disorders is dysregulation of activin receptors and that activin receptor signaling is required for the majority of myelin generation in development and following injury. Using a constitutive conditional knockout of all activin receptor signaling in oligodendrocyte lineage cells, we discovered this signaling to be required for myelination via regulation of oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelin compaction. These processes were found to be dependent on the activin receptor subtype Acvr2a, which is expressed during oligodendrocyte differentiation and axonal ensheathment in development and following myelin injury. During efficient myelin regeneration, Acvr2a upregulation was seen to coincide with downregulation of Acvr2b, a receptor subtype with relatively higher ligand affinity; Acvr2b was shown to be dispensable for activin receptor-driven oligodendrocyte differentiation and its overexpression was sufficient to impair the abovementioned ligand-driven responses. In actively myelinating or remyelinating areas of human perinatal brain injury and multiple sclerosis tissue, respectively, oligodendrocyte lineage cells expressing Acvr2a outnumbered those expressing Acvr2b, whereas in non-repairing lesions Acvr2b+ cells were increased. Thus, we propose that following human white matter injury, this increase in Acvr2b expression would sequester ligand and consequently impair Acvr2a-driven oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelin formation. Our results demonstrate dysregulated activin receptor signaling in common myelin disorders and reveal Acvr2a as a novel therapeutic target for myelin generation following injury across the lifespan.

Alternate JournalActa Neuropathol.
PubMed ID29397421
PubMed Central IDPMC5954071
Grant ListMR/M020827/1 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
MR/N02256/1 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
MR/M020827/1 / / Multiple Sclerosis Society / United Kingdom
GN2318 / / Action Medical Research /
MR/L016400/1 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
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