Table of Contents
Journal of Signal Transduction
Volume 2011, Article ID 354091, 11 pages
Review Article

Integrin Signaling in Oligodendrocytes and Its Importance in CNS Myelination

1Regenerative Medicine Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, 501 Smyth Road, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1H 8L6
2Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1H 8M5
3Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1H 8M5

Received 14 September 2010; Accepted 28 October 2010

Academic Editor: J. Adolfo García-Sáinz

Copyright © 2011 Ryan W. O'Meara et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Multiple sclerosis is characterized by repeated demyelinating attacks of the central nervous system (CNS) white matter tracts. To tailor novel therapeutics to halt or reverse disease process, we require a better understanding of oligodendrocyte biology and of the molecular mechanisms that initiate myelination. Cell extrinsic mechanisms regulate CNS myelination through the interaction of extracellular matrix proteins and their transmembrane receptors. The engagement of one such receptor family, the integrins, initiates intracellular signaling cascades that lead to changes in cell phenotype. Oligodendrocytes express a diverse array of integrins, and the expression of these receptors is developmentally regulated. Integrin-mediated signaling is crucial to the proliferation, survival, and maturation of oligodendrocytes through the activation of downstream signaling pathways involved in cytoskeletal remodeling. Here, we review the current understanding of this important signaling axis and its role in oligodendrocyte biology and ultimately in the myelination of axons within the CNS.