Elucidating Novel Roles of Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells that Shape Nervous System Structure and Function

Year of award: 2021


  • Dr Tim Czopka

    University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Project summary

There is now compelling evidence that non-neuronal glial cells are crucial regulators of CNS assembly, maintenance, and plasticity. Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) are one major type of glia which have an established role in generating myelinating oligodendrocytes. However, there are far more OPCs evenly distributed throughout the CNS than ever contribute to myelin formation. How tissue resident OPCs affect the CNS is not clear. Here, I aim to reveal novel roles of OPCs by determining how they directly shape connectivity between neurons. We will do this using young zebrafish, which provides a unique model system to analyse and manipulate gene function in OPCs, carry out high-resolution in vivo imaging and functional analysis of cell and circuit physiology, and to test how dysfunctional OPCs affect animal behaviour. Together, our work will reveal functions that OPCs have in shaping the CNS and their implications for circuit formation, function and dysfunction.