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Transcription factor Olig2 is a major downstream effector of histone demethylase Phf8 during oligodendroglial development.

Glia 2024 April 14
The plant homeodomain finger protein Phf8 is a histone demethylase implicated by mutation in mice and humans in neural crest defects and neurodevelopmental disturbances. Considering its widespread expression in cell types of the central nervous system, we set out to determine the role of Phf8 in oligodendroglial cells to clarify whether oligodendroglial defects are a possible contributing factor to Phf8-dependent neurodevelopmental disorders. Using loss- and gain-of-function approaches in oligodendroglial cell lines and primary cell cultures, we show that Phf8 promotes the proliferation of rodent oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and impairs their differentiation to oligodendrocytes. Intriguingly, Phf8 has a strong positive impact on Olig2 expression by acting on several regulatory regions of the gene and changing their histone modification profile. Taking the influence of Olig2 levels on oligodendroglial proliferation and differentiation into account, Olig2 likely acts as an important downstream effector of Phf8 in these cells. In line with such an effector function, ectopic Olig2 expression in Phf8-deficient cells rescues the proliferation defect. Additionally, generation of human oligodendrocytes from induced pluripotent stem cells did not require PHF8 in a system that relies on forced expression of Olig2 during oligodendroglial induction. We conclude that Phf8 may impact nervous system development at least in part through its action in oligodendroglial cells.

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