AN2/NG2 protein-expressing glial progenitor cells in the murine CNS: Isolation, differentiation, and association with radial glia


  • M. Diers-Fenger
  • F. Kirchhoff
  • H. Kettenmann
  • J.M. Levine
  • J. Trotter


  • Glia


  • Glia 34 (3): 213-228


  • During early neural development, the lineage specification of initially pluripotent progenitor cells is associated with proliferation, differentiation, and migration. Oligodendroglial progenitor cells migrate from their sites of origin to reach the axons that they will myelinate. We have described a cell-surface protein, AN2, expressed by oligodendroglial progenitor cells in vitro and showed that antibodies against AN2 inhibited the migration of cultured primary oligodendroglial progenitor cells, suggesting that the AN2 antigen plays a role in their migration. Recently, results from MALDI mass spectroscopy showed that AN2 is the mouse homologue of the rat NG2 protein. In this study, we have analyzed cells staining with AN2 antibodies during development and in the adult murine central nervous system (CNS), carried out double stainings with antibodies against NG2, and investigated the differentiation potential of cells in vitro after isolation from early postnatal brain using AN2 antibodies. AN2 and NG2 antibodies stained totally overlapping populations of cells in the CNS. AN2/NG2 expressing cells in embryonic and postnatal brain expressed the PDGF-α-receptor and in postnatal brain exhibited electrophysiological properties typical of glial progenitor cells. Cells isolated from early postnatal brain using AN2 monoclonal antibody developed into oligodendrocytes in low serum medium or into astrocytes in the presence of fetal calf serum. In the embryonic spinal cord, cells staining with AN2 antibodies were found closely apposed to radial glial cells, suggesting that glial precursors, like neurons, may use radial glia as scaffolds for migration.