Regeneration of propagating action potentials at nodes of Ranvier allows nerve impulses to be conducted over long distances. Proper nodal function is believed to rely on intimate associations among axons, myelinating oligodendrocytes, and perinodal astrocytes. Studies in the optic nerve, corpus callosum, and spinal cord suggest that NG2+ cells are also key constituents of CNS nodes and that these glia may influence conduction efficacy and formation of axon collaterals. However, the prevalence of NG2+ cell processes at CNS nodes of Ranvier has not been rigorously quantified. Here we used a transgenic mouse expressing membrane-targeted EGFP to visualize the fine processes of NG2+ cells and to quantify the spatial relationship between NG2+ cells and nodes of Ranvier in four distinct CNS white matter tracts. NG2+ cell processes came within close spatial proximity to a small percentage of nodes of Ranvier and approximately half of these spatial interactions were estimated to occur by chance. The majority of NG2+ cell process tips were not found in close proximity to nodes and gray matter NG2+ cells in regions of low nodal density were as morphologically complex as their white matter counterparts, indicating that attraction to nodes does not critically influence the elaboration of NG2+ cell processes. Finally, there was no difference in nodal density between small regions devoid of NG2+ cell processes and those containing numerous NG2+ cells processes, demonstrating that the function of CNS nodes of Ranvier does not require ongoing interaction with NG2+ cells. Significance Statement Effective propagation of action potentials along neuronal axons is dependent upon periodic regeneration of depolarization at nodes of Ranvier. The position, structural integrity, and function of nodes of Ranvier is believed to be regulated, in part, by intimate physical interactions between nearby glial cells and nodes. Clarifying whether oligodendrocyte precursor cells are obligate members of this nodal support system is critical for defining whether these cells contribute to pathologies in which nodal structure is compromised.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)