How BDNF signalling controls myelination?

Project Details

A myelinating oligodendrocyte (green) co-cultured with neurons (red)

Figure 1: A myelinating oligodendrocyte (green) co-cultured with neurons (red) (Photo credit - Junhua Xiao)

We have been investigating a family of growth factors known as the neurotrophins, and the influence they exert on both peripheral (PNS) and central nervous system (CNS) myelination. We have recently identified that BDNF plays critical roles in promoting both central and peripheral nervous system myelination.  We have found that BDNF activates distinct receptors to regulate myelination in the CNS and PNS: BDNF activates the receptor tyrosine kinase TrkB to promote CNS myelination, but activates the p75NTR neurotrophin receptor to promote PNS myelination.   This project aims to determine how BDNF signalling through these distinct receptors controls myelination.

Peripheral nervous system myelination:

We have transgenic mice with altered levels of BDNF, as well as mice that have either TrkB or p75NTR receptors deleted from Schwann cells or peripheral neurons.  Projects are available that involve analysis of myelin development in these mice, as well as myelin repair after injury, to directly assess the influence that BDNF exerts in this context.

We also culture Schwann cells and peripheral neurons in vitro, and to complement the above studies examine the influence that BDNF exerts on these cell types independently, as well as analyse the signalling pathways that BDNF activates.

Central nervous system myelination:

Adopting a similar strategy articulated above, we have transgenic mice with altered levels of BDNF, as well as mice that have either TrkB or p75NTR receptors deleted from Oligodendrocytes or central nervous system neurons.  Projects are available that involve analysis of myelin development in these mice, as well as myelin repair after injury, to directly assess the influence that BDNF exerts in this context.

We also culture Oligodendrocytes in vitro, and to complement the above studies examine the influence that BDNF exerts on these cells, as well as analyse the signalling pathways that BDNF activates.

Research Group

Murray & Xiao laboratory: Neurotrophin and myelin



Faculty Research Themes

Neuroscience

School Research Themes

Biomedical Neuroscience, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Cell Signalling, Cellular Imaging & Structural Biology, Therapeutics & Translation



Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Neuroscience

Unit / Centre

Murray & Xiao laboratory: Neurotrophin and myelin