Understanding the molecular basis of myelin repair

Project Details

In Multiple Sclerosis (MS), oligodendrocytes are often found within demyelinated lesions, but these fail to remyelinate the demyelinated axons.  Indeed, one of the major factors contributing to disease progression is this ‘remyelination block’, where the process of oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination is inhibited in demyelinating lesions.

Myelinated axons in the developing mouse spinal cord, imaged by electron microscopy

Figure 1: Myelinated axons in the developing mouse spinal cord, imaged by electron microscopy  (Photo credit - Fatemeh Dami)

Our research has begun to directly investigate the molecular basis of this inhibition of myelin repair. Wnts are secreted proteins that control many different aspects of cell development and behaviour.  Key components of the Wnt signalling pathway are upregulated in MS lesions, strongly suggesting that this pathway could be one of the factors that limits oligodendrocyte differentiation and remyelination in the context of MS.  This project involves the analysis of transgenic mice that have the Wnt signalling pathway specifically perturbed in oligodendrocytes.  We are interested in identifying the precise influence that Wnt signalling exerts upon normal myelination during development. In addition, adopting animal models of demyelinating disease, we are also interested in identifying the precise influence that Wnt signalling exerts upon remyelination following a demyelinating insult in vivo, and whether blocking Wnt signalling can enhance myelin repair.

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