NG2 glial cells provide a favorable substrate for growing axons

Zhongshu Yang, Ryusuke Suzuki, Stephen B. Daniels, Christopher B. Brunquell, Christopher J. Sala, Akiko Nishiyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


NG2 cells (polydendrocytes) comprise an abundant glial population that is widely and uniformly distributed throughout the developing and mature CNS and are identified by the expression of the NG2 proteoglycan at the cell surface. Although recent electrophysiological studies suggest that they are capable of receiving signals from axon terminals, other studies, based on the finding that the NG2 molecule itself induces growth cone collapse, have led to a widely held speculation that NG2 cells themselves also repel and inhibit growing axons. In this study, we have examined the effects of rat NG2 cells on growing hippocampal and neocortical axons in vitro and in vivo. NG2 cells did not repel growing axons but promoted their growth in vitro, and axonal growth cones formed extensive contacts with NG2 cells both in vitro and in the developing corpus callosum. Punctate immunoreactivity for fibronectin and laminin was found to be colocalized with NG2 on the surface of NG2 cells. Altering the level of cell surface NG2 expression had no effect on the growth-promoting effects of NG2 cells on growing axons. Thus, our study indicates that NG2 cells are not inhibitory to growing axons but provide an adhesive substrate for axonal growth cones and promote their growth even in the presence of elevated levels of the NG2 proteoglycan. These findings suggest a novel role for NG2 cells in facilitating axonal growth during development and regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3829-3839
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 5 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Axon
  • Fibronectin
  • Growth cone
  • Laminin
  • Neurites
  • NG2
  • Oligodendrocyte progenitor
  • Proteoglycan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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