GPR17 and oligodendrocytes

Staining of GPR17 (green) with DAPI (blue) in oligodendrocytes from thalamic areas of the mouse brain.

The G protein-coupled receptor 17 (GPR17) was first identified in samples extracted from the central nervous system. This protein belongs to the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) protein family, whose members serve as important regulators of oligodendrocyte development.

Oligodendrocytes are the cells that mainly provide support and electrically insulate axons in the brain by forming the myelin sheath. During development, these cells progress from oligodendrocyte precursor cells to myelinating mature oligodendrocytes.

GPR17, in particular is an oligodendroglial maturation inhibitor since its stimulation arrests mouse oligodendrocytes at a less differentiated stage. Failure in maturation leads to impaired myelination and slow conduction of signals along nerves, events that usually precede all serious neurological deficits that are seen in severe neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.

Expression of the GPR17 gene has been detected on RNA level in a wide range of tissues. To learn more about expression and spatial distribution of this protein follow the link to GPR17 cell atlas site.

References and links

Chen et al. 2009; Nat Neurosci 12: 1398-1406
Simon et al. 2016; J Biol Chem 291: 705-718