During development and in the adult, erbB2, erbB3, and erbB4 are expressed in many tissues and as heterodimers (B2/B3, B2/B4) serve as receptors for neuregulins. The general importance of neuregulin receptors for development is underlined by the observed embryonic (erbB2, erbB4) or perinatal (erbB3) lethality in mouse mutants. These mutants further revealed the fundamental role of the erbB2/erbB3 heterodimer for proper Schwann cell development, the ensheathing glia of the peripheral nervous system. However, only little is known about the functions of neuregulins and their receptors during postnatal development and in the adult erbB2 and erbB3 during late embryogenesis and postnatally are expressed in different areas and cell types of the central nervous system, including oligodendrocytes, the ensheathing glia of the central nervous system. As terminal differentiation of oligodendrocytes peaks during postnatal development, it is not possible to use the neuregulin receptor mouse mutants to study terminal differentiation of oligodendrocytes in their absence in vivo. In order to investigate possible functions of the erbB3 gene in oligodendrocytes, we employed two different techniques. First, we directed the differentiation of erbB3-deficient embryonic stem cells into neural cell types to analyze the development of oligodendrocytes in the absence of erbB3 in vitro. Second, we grafted neural stem cells from spinal cords of erbB3 mutants into the retina of young mice to monitor oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination in vivo. Results of both experimental approaches clearly show that erbB3 is not required for normal oligodendrocyte development and myelination.
- Embryonic stem cells
- Neural stem cells
- erbB3 receptor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience