PloS one

p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Pathway Regulates Genes during Proliferation and Differentiation in Oligodendrocytes.

PMID 26714323


We have previously shown that p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) is important for oligodendrocyte (OLG) differentiation and myelination. However, the precise cellular mechanisms by which p38 regulates OLG differentiation remain largely unknown. To determine whether p38 functions in part through transcriptional events in regulating OLG identity, we performed microarray analysis on differentiating oligodendrocyte progenitors (OLPs) treated with a p38 inhibitor. Consistent with a role in OLG differentiation, pharmacological inhibition of p38 down-regulated the transcription of genes that are involved in myelin biogenesis, transcriptional control and cell cycle. Proliferation assays showed that OLPs treated with the p38 inhibitor retained a proliferative capacity which could be induced upon application of mitogens demonstrating that after two days of p38-inhibition OLGs remained poised to continue mitosis. Together, our results suggest that the p38 pathway regulates gene transcription which can coordinate OLG differentiation. Our microarray dataset will provide a useful resource for future studies investigating the molecular mechanisms by which p38 regulates oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination.