Directed migration of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) is important for myelin formation and repair but the mechanisms of directional control are poorly understood. Here we have tested the role of polysialic acid-neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM) in the directional migration of OPCs towards platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). Using a Boyden microchemotaxis chamber and the Dunn direct viewing chamber, we show that in concentration gradients of PDGF, PSA-positive OPCs polarize and efficiently migrate towards the source of PDGF (chemotaxis). The loss or inactivation of the polysialic tail of NCAM leads to an altered pattern of OPC migration in response to PDGF gradients. Cells under these conditions, while being polarized and migrating, show no bias of displacement towards the source of PDGF and make random turns. By contrast, directed migration of OPCs towards basic fibroblast growth factor was not affected by the removal of PSA. Moreover, inactivation of PSA does not interfere with the random migration pattern of cells in uniform concentrations of PDGF (chemokinesis). These results suggest that PSA-NCAM is specifically involved in establishing the directionality of OPC migration in response to the concentration gradient of PDGF, but it is not essential for cell motility per se.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology