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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Identification of Tmem10/Opalin as a novel marker for oligodendrocytes using gene expression profiling

Angelika Kippert12, Katarina Trajkovic12, Dirk Fitzner123, Lennart Opitz2 and Mikael Simons123*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, University of Göttingen Humboldtallee 23, Göttingen, Germany

2 Max-Planck-Institute for Experimental Medicine, Hermann-Rein-Str. 3, Göttingen, Germany

3 Department of Neurology, University of Göttingen, Robert-Koch-Str. 40, Göttingen, Germany

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BMC Neuroscience 2008, 9:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-9-40

Published: 25 April 2008



During the development of the central nervous system, oligodendrocytes generate large amounts of myelin, a multilayered insulating membrane that ensheathes axons, thereby allowing the fast conduction of the action potential and maintaining axonal integrity. Differentiation of oligodendrocytes to myelin-forming cells requires the downregulation of RhoA GTPase activity.


To gain insights into the molecular mechanisms of oligodendrocyte differentiation, we performed microarray expression profiling of the oligodendroglial cell line, Oli-neu, treated with the Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibitor, Y-27632 or with conditioned neuronal medium. This resulted in the identification of the transmembrane protein 10 (Tmem10/Opalin), a novel type I transmembrane protein enriched in differentiating oligodendrocytes. In primary cultures, Tmem10 was abundantly expressed in O4-positive oligodendrocytes, but not in oligodendroglial precursor cells, astrocytes, microglia or neurons. In mature oligodendrocytes Tmem10 was enriched in the rims and processes of the cells and was only found to a lesser extent in the membrane sheets.


Together, our results demonstrate that Tmem10 is a novel marker for in vitro generated oligodendrocytes.