Neurotransmitter Signalling to Central Nervous System Progenitor Cells The lab’s esearch interests are neurotransmitter signalling to oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPC; a type of CNS stem cell), in both health and disease. For our brain to work properly, enabling us to feel, move, talk, see , think and learn, fast electrical communication between nerve cells is essential. This is achieved by insulating the nerves with a fatty substance called myelin. In diseases like multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and stroke, myelin is lost, while in cerebral palsy myelin fails to develop. Lack of myelin causes physical and mental disability. Myelin is provided by cells called oligodendrocytes, which develop from oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs). OPCs are 5% of all cells in the adult brain and can to turn into most cell types in the brain. Most importantly, OPCs can repair myelin, but this repair often fails. We have discovered that OPCs express a protein previously only thought to be expressed in neurons, as it is known for being essential for learning. But in OPCs it enables them to sense activity in the neurons. Furthermore, we found that OPCs enter into a dialogue with neurons and this dialogue and neuronal activity, acting on the protein we found, directs OPCs to become myelin-making oligodendrocytes in both health and disease. We are now investigating how signals in the cells’ environment interact with OPCs to instruct them to move to regions where myelin is needed, and to generate myelin-making oligodendrocytes, with special focus on the neuron to OPCs dialogue. The long-term aim of this work is to understand how OPCs become myelinating cells, and how we can influence them to repair myelin in disease.
Ragnhildur Thóra Káradóttir Ragnhildur Thora Karadottir graduated with a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Iceland in 2000. Then she did a 4 year Wellcome Trust PhD in Neuroscience at UCL under the supervision of Prof. David Attwell. She continued working with Prof. Attwell as a postdoctoral researcher, before being awarded a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship which she used to work with Prof. Charles ffrench-Constant at University of Cambridge. In 2008 she established her own independent research group in Cambridge and in 2011 she was awarded the Wellcome Trust Research Career Development fellowship. She is currently editor of Brain Plasticity and for a special issue for Neuroscience on White matter.
Funding Myelinated fibres in the brain, these fibres provide superfast communication between neurons.
Wellcome Trust MRC
Key Publications Bakiri Y, Káradóttir R, Cossell L, Attwell D (2011) Morphological and electrical properties of oligodendrocytes in the white matter of the corpus callosum and cerebellum. J Physiol 589:559. PMID: 21098009 Káradóttir R, Hamilton N, Bakiri Y & Attwell D (2008).Spiking and nonspiking classes of oligodendrocyte precursor glia in CNS white matter. Nature Neuroscience 11(4): 450-456. PMID: 18311136 Bakiri Y, Hamilton N, Káradóttir R & Attwell D (2008). NMDA receptor block as a therapeutic strategy for reducing ischaemic damage to oligodendrocytes. Glia, 15;56(2): 233-240. PMID: 18046734 Group Members Kimberly Evans Katrin Volbracht Sylvia Agathou Sergey Sitnikov Sonia Spitzer Moritz Matthey John Stockley