Microarray analysis revealed that transcripts for the Axl and Mer receptor tyrosine kinases are expressed at high levels in 04 + - immunopanned oligodendrocytes isolated from second trimester human fetal spinal cord. In humans the sole known ligand for the Axl/Rse/Mer kinases is growth arrest-specific gene 6 (Gas6), which in the CNS is secreted by neurons and endothelial cells. We hypothesized that Gas6 is a survival factor for oligodendrocytes and receptor activation signals downstream to the phosphatidylinositol 3 (PI3)-kinase/Akt pathway to increase cell survival in the absence of cell proliferation. To test this hypothesis, we grew enriched human oligodendrocytes for 6 d on a monolayer of NIH3T3 cells stably expressing Gas6. CNP+ oligodendrocytes on Gas6-secreting 3T3 cells had more primary processes and arborizations than those plated solely on 3T3 cells. Also, a twofold increase in CNP+ and MBP+ oligodendrocytes was observed when they were plated on the Gas6-secreting cells. The effect was abolished in the presence of Axl-Fc but remained unchanged in the presence of the irrelevant receptor fusion molecule TrkA-Fc. A significant decrease in CNP+/TUNEL+ oligodendrocytes was observed when recombinant human Gas6 (rhGas6) was administered to oligodendrocytes plated on poly-L-lysine, supporting a role for Gas6 signaling in oligodendrocyte survival during a period of active myelination in human fetal spinal cord development. PI3-kinase inhibitors blocked the anti-apoptotic effect of rhGas6, whereas a MEK/ERK inhibitor had no effect. Thus Gas6 sustains human fetal oligodendrocyte viability by receptor activation and downstream signaling via the PI3-kinase/Akt pathway.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Neuroscience|
|State||Published - May 15 2003|
- Human spinal cord
- Tyrosine kinase receptors
ASJC Scopus subject areas