The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

The Autotaxin-Lysophosphatidic Acid Axis Modulates Histone Acetylation and Gene Expression during Oligodendrocyte Differentiation.

PMID 26269646


During development, oligodendrocytes (OLGs), the myelinating cells of the CNS, undergo a stepwise progression during which OLG progenitors, specified from neural stem/progenitor cells, differentiate into fully mature myelinating OLGs. This progression along the OLG lineage is characterized by well synchronized changes in morphology and gene expression patterns. The latter have been found to be particularly critical during the early stages of the lineage, and they have been well described to be regulated by epigenetic mechanisms, especially by the activity of the histone deacetylases HDAC1 and HDAC2. The data presented here identify the extracellular factor autotaxin (ATX) as a novel upstream signal modulating HDAC1/2 activity and gene expression in cells of the OLG lineage. Using the zebrafish as an in vivo model system as well as rodent primary OLG cultures, this functional property of ATX was found to be mediated by its lysophospholipase D (lysoPLD) activity, which has been well characterized to generate the lipid signaling molecule lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). More specifically, the lysoPLD activity of ATX was found to modulate HDAC1/2 regulated gene expression during a time window coinciding with the transition from OLG progenitor to early differentiating OLG. In contrast, HDAC1/2 regulated gene expression during the transition from neural stem/progenitor to OLG progenitor appeared unaffected by ATX and its lysoPLD activity. Thus, together, our data suggest that an ATX-LPA-HDAC1/2 axis regulates OLG differentiation specifically during the transition from OLG progenitor to early differentiating OLG and via a molecular mechanism that is evolutionarily conserved from at least zebrafish to rodent. The formation of the axon insulating and supporting myelin sheath by differentiating oligodendrocytes (OLGs) in the CNS is considered an essential step during vertebrate development. In addition, loss and/or dysfunction of the myelin sheath has been associated with a variety of neurologic diseases in which repair is limited, despite the presence of progenitor cells with the potential to differentiate into myelinating OLGs. This study characterizes the autotaxin-lysophosphatidic acid signaling axis as a modulator of OLG differentiation in vivo in the developing zebrafish and in vitro in rodent OLGs in culture. These findings provide novel insight into the regulation of developmental myelination, and they are likely to lead to advancing studies related to the stimulation of myelin repair under pathologic conditions.