Evidence for cooperative selection of axons for myelination by adjacent oligodendrocytes in the optic nerve

Darragh M. Walsh, Tobias D. Merson, Kerry A. Landman, Barry D. Hughes

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The cellular mechanisms that regulate the topographic arrangement of myelin internodes along axons remain largely uncharacterized. Recent clonal analysis of oligodendrocyte morphologies in the mouse optic nerve revealed that adjacent oligodendrocytes frequently formed adjacent internodes on one or more axons in common, whereas oligodendrocytes in the optic nerve were never observed to myelinate the same axon more than once. By modelling the process of axonal selection at the single cell level, we demonstrate that internode length and primary process length constrain the capacity of oligodendrocytes to myelinate the same axon more than once. On the other hand, probabilistic analysis reveals that the observed juxtaposition of myelin internodes among common sets of axons by adjacent oligodendrocytes is highly unlikely to occur by chance. Our analysis may reveal a hitherto unknown level of communication between adjacent oligodendrocytes in the selection of axons for myelination. Together, our analyses provide novel insights into the mechanisms that define the spatial organization of myelin internodes within white matter at the single cell level.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0165673
Number of pages9
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

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