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Gene Review

Olig2  -  oligodendrocyte transcription factor 2

Mus musculus

Synonyms: AI604895, Bhlhb1, Olg-2, Oligo2, Oligodendrocyte transcription factor 2, ...
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Disease relevance of Olig2

  • We find that infections with Shh-expressing retrovirus at embryonic day 9.5, result in ectopic Olig2 and PDGFR(alpha) expression by mid-embryogenesis [1].
  • Expression pattern of the transcription factor Olig2 in response to brain injuries: implications for neuronal repair [2].
  • To examine the function of Olig2 in brain lesion, we injected retroviral vectors containing a dominant negative form of Olig2 into the lesioned cortex 2 days after a stab wound [2].

High impact information on Olig2

  • Olig2 is required for oligodendrocyte and motor neuron specification in the spinal cord [3].
  • Previous studies have shown that Olig2 primes pMN cells to become motor neurons by triggering the expression of Ngn2 and Lhx3 [4].
  • Olig2 is a bHLH-class transcription factor in pMN cells, but it has remained unclear how its transcriptional activity is modulated to first produce motor neurons and then oligodendrocytes [4].
  • This regionalization of the adult precursor cells is further supported by the restricted expression of the transcription factor Olig2, which specifies transit-amplifying precursor fate and opposes the neurogenic role of Pax6 [5].
  • In the absence of Nkx6 genes or Shh signaling, the initial expression of Olig2 in the pMN domain is completely abolished [6].

Biological context of Olig2

  • The co-expression of Nkx2.2 and Olig2 in OLPs is tightly associated with myelin gene expression in the normal and PDGFA(-/-) embryos, suggesting a cooperative role of these transcription factors in the control of oligodendrocyte differentiation [7].
  • We observed prominent down-regulation of most transcription factors present in telencephalic precursors upon growth factor exposure in neurosphere cultures while Olig1 and Olig2 expression was strongly up-regulated [8].
  • Finally, differentiation of mOP cells was accompanied by up-regulation of mRNA encoding Olig2 but not Olig1, which is consistent with previous findings showing that Olig2 is necessary for specification of oligodendrocytes [9].
  • An oligodendrocyte-specific zinc-finger transcription regulator cooperates with Olig2 to promote oligodendrocyte differentiation [10].
  • When the Olig2-expressing cells at E12.5 were permanently modified to express the lacZ or EGFP gene by tamoxifen-induced Cre-mediated recombination, the cells marked by reporter gene expression were widely distributed in the basal forebrain by E18.5, some of which expressed neuronal markers [11].

Anatomical context of Olig2


Physical interactions of Olig2

  • In developing neural tube, the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor Olig2 interacts with the homeodomain transcription factor Nkx2.2 at two distinct stages [15].

Regulatory relationships of Olig2


Other interactions of Olig2

  • Although expression analyses and gain-of-function experiments suggested that these factors were involved in motoneuron and oligodendrocyte development, they do not clearly define the functional differences between Olig1 and Olig2 [16].
  • In particular, the transcription factors (TFs) Olig2, Pax6, and Nkx2.2 have been shown to be important in the specification and/or maturation of the OG lineage [17].
  • Olig1 or Olig3, other family members, were expressed in the descendent cells that should have expressed Olig2 [16].
  • Moreover, coexpression of Olig2 with Nkx2.2 in the chick neural tube generated cells expressing Sox10, a marker of oligodendroglial precursors [18].
  • In the embryonic brain, the Olig2 expression domain is broader than that of Olig1 and does not overlap with an oligodendrocyte progenitor marker, CNP [19].

Analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic context of Olig2

  • Coculture of NSFCs trans-fected with Ngn2-HB92 or Olig2 and HB9 with purified chicken skeletal muscle demonstrated frequent contacts that resembled neuromuscular junctions [20].
  • Here we have used in situ hybridization to investigate the expression patterns of FgfR1-3 and compare them to the putative OL progenitor markers Olig2, Pdgfralpha and Plp/dm20 as a function of development in vivo, in particular at sites of OL specification, migration or differentiation in the mouse forebrain and cerebellum [21].


  1. Sonic hedgehog contributes to oligodendrocyte specification in the mammalian forebrain. Nery, S., Wichterle, H., Fishell, G. Development (2001) [Pubmed]
  2. Expression pattern of the transcription factor Olig2 in response to brain injuries: implications for neuronal repair. Buffo, A., Vosko, M.R., Ertürk, D., Hamann, G.F., Jucker, M., Rowitch, D., Götz, M. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2005) [Pubmed]
  3. Common developmental requirement for Olig function indicates a motor neuron/oligodendrocyte connection. Lu, Q.R., Sun, T., Zhu, Z., Ma, N., Garcia, M., Stiles, C.D., Rowitch, D.H. Cell (2002) [Pubmed]
  4. Olig2 and Ngn2 function in opposition to modulate gene expression in motor neuron progenitor cells. Lee, S.K., Lee, B., Ruiz, E.C., Pfaff, S.L. Genes Dev. (2005) [Pubmed]
  5. Neuronal fate determinants of adult olfactory bulb neurogenesis. Hack, M.A., Saghatelyan, A., de Chevigny, A., Pfeifer, A., Ashery-Padan, R., Lledo, P.M., Götz, M. Nat. Neurosci. (2005) [Pubmed]
  6. Generation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells from mouse dorsal spinal cord independent of Nkx6 regulation and Shh signaling. Cai, J., Qi, Y., Hu, X., Tan, M., Liu, Z., Zhang, J., Li, Q., Sander, M., Qiu, M. Neuron (2005) [Pubmed]
  7. Dual origin of spinal oligodendrocyte progenitors and evidence for the cooperative role of Olig2 and Nkx2.2 in the control of oligodendrocyte differentiation. Fu, H., Qi, Y., Tan, M., Cai, J., Takebayashi, H., Nakafuku, M., Richardson, W., Qiu, M. Development (2002) [Pubmed]
  8. Regionalization and fate specification in neurospheres: the role of Olig2 and Pax6. Hack, M.A., Sugimori, M., Lundberg, C., Nakafuku, M., Götz, M. Mol. Cell. Neurosci. (2004) [Pubmed]
  9. New mouse oligodendrocyte precursor (mOP) cells for studies on oligodendrocyte maturation and function. Lin, T., Xiang, Z., Cui, L., Stallcup, W., Reeves, S.A. J. Neurosci. Methods (2006) [Pubmed]
  10. An oligodendrocyte-specific zinc-finger transcription regulator cooperates with Olig2 to promote oligodendrocyte differentiation. Wang, S.Z., Dulin, J., Wu, H., Hurlock, E., Lee, S.E., Jansson, K., Lu, Q.R. Development (2006) [Pubmed]
  11. Involvement of the Olig2 transcription factor in cholinergic neuron development of the basal forebrain. Furusho, M., Ono, K., Takebayashi, H., Masahira, N., Kagawa, T., Ikeda, K., Ikenaka, K. Dev. Biol. (2006) [Pubmed]
  12. Region-specific and stage-dependent regulation of Olig gene expression and oligodendrogenesis by Nkx6.1 homeodomain transcription factor. Liu, R., Cai, J., Hu, X., Tan, M., Qi, Y., German, M., Rubenstein, J., Sander, M., Qiu, M. Development (2003) [Pubmed]
  13. Olig genes are expressed in a heterogeneous population of precursor cells in the developing spinal cord. Liu, Y., Rao, M.S. Glia (2004) [Pubmed]
  14. Non-overlapping expression of Olig3 and Olig2 in the embryonic neural tube. Takebayashi, H., Ohtsuki, T., Uchida, T., Kawamoto, S., Okubo, K., Ikenaka, K., Takeichi, M., Chisaka, O., Nabeshima, Y. Mech. Dev. (2002) [Pubmed]
  15. Cross-repressive interaction of the Olig2 and Nkx2.2 transcription factors in developing neural tube associated with formation of a specific physical complex. Sun, T., Dong, H., Wu, L., Kane, M., Rowitch, D.H., Stiles, C.D. J. Neurosci. (2003) [Pubmed]
  16. The basic helix-loop-helix factor olig2 is essential for the development of motoneuron and oligodendrocyte lineages. Takebayashi, H., Nabeshima, Y., Yoshida, S., Chisaka, O., Ikenaka, K., Nabeshima, Y. Curr. Biol. (2002) [Pubmed]
  17. Early stages of oligodendrocyte development in the embryonic murine spinal cord proceed normally in the absence of Hoxa2. Nicolay, D.J., Doucette, J.R., Nazarali, A.J. Glia (2004) [Pubmed]
  18. Olig bHLH proteins interact with homeodomain proteins to regulate cell fate acquisition in progenitors of the ventral neural tube. Sun, T., Echelard, Y., Lu, R., Yuk, D.I., Kaing, S., Stiles, C.D., Rowitch, D.H. Curr. Biol. (2001) [Pubmed]
  19. Dynamic expression of basic helix-loop-helix Olig family members: implication of Olig2 in neuron and oligodendrocyte differentiation and identification of a new member, Olig3. Takebayashi, H., Yoshida, S., Sugimori, M., Kosako, H., Kominami, R., Nakafuku, M., Nabeshima, Y. Mech. Dev. (2000) [Pubmed]
  20. Role of transcription factors in motoneuron differentiation of adult human olfactory neuroepithelial-derived progenitors. Zhang, X., Cai, J., Klueber, K.M., Guo, Z., Lu, C., Winstead, W.I., Qiu, M., Roisen, F.J. Stem Cells (2006) [Pubmed]
  21. Expression of FGF receptors 1, 2, 3 in the embryonic and postnatal mouse brain compared with Pdgfralpha, Olig2 and Plp/dm20: implications for oligodendrocyte development. Bansal, R., Lakhina, V., Remedios, R., Tole, S. Dev. Neurosci. (2003) [Pubmed]
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