Phosphorylated olig1 localizes to the cytosol of oligodendrocytes and promotes membrane expansion and maturation

Jianqin Niu, Feng Mei, Lingyun Wang, Shubao Liu, Yanping Tian, Wei Mo, Hongli Li, Q. Richard Lu, Lan Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Oligodendroglial cells undergo rapid transcriptional and dynamic morphological transformation in order to effectively myelinate neuronal axons. Olig1, a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor, functions to promote the transcription of myelin-specific genes and promotes differentiation and (re)myelination. While the role for nuclear Olig1 is well established, the function for cytoplasmic Olig1 remains uncertain. We observe that translocation of Olig1 into the cytosol highly correlates with differentiation of oligodendrocytes both invivo and invitro. By enforcing expression of a nuclear-specific form of Olig1 into OPCs in a null-Olig1 background, we demonstrate that nuclear Olig1 is sufficient to facilitate MBP expression, but with greatly diminished membrane volume and area. We demonstrate that serine 138 in the helix-loop-helix domain of Olig1 is phosphorylated and that this form resides in the cytosol. Mutating serine 138 to alanine restricts Olig1 to the nucleus, facilitating MBP expression but limiting membrane expansion. However, a serine to aspartic acid mutation results in the cytoplasmic localization of Olig1 enhancing membrane expansion. Our results suggest a novel role for a phosphorylated cytosolic Olig1 in membrane expansion and maturation of oligodendrocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1427-1436
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Differentiation
  • Olig1
  • Oligodendrocyte
  • Phosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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