Nat Commun 11 (1) 4071 [2020-08-13; online 2020-08-13]
Arrest of oligodendrocyte (OL) differentiation and remyelination following myelin damage in multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with neurodegeneration and clinical worsening. We show that Glutathione S-transferase 4α (Gsta4) is highly expressed during adult OL differentiation and that Gsta4 loss impairs differentiation into myelinating OLs in vitro. In addition, we identify Gsta4 as a target of both dimethyl fumarate, an existing MS therapy, and clemastine fumarate, a candidate remyelinating agent in MS. Overexpression of Gsta4 reduces expression of Fas and activity of the mitochondria-associated Casp8-Bid-axis in adult oligodendrocyte precursor cells, leading to improved OL survival during differentiation. The Gsta4 effect on apoptosis during adult OL differentiation was corroborated in vivo in both lysolecithin-induced demyelination and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis models, where Casp8 activity was reduced in Gsta4-overexpressing OLs. Our results identify Gsta4 as an intrinsic regulator of OL differentiation, survival and remyelination, as well as a potential target for future reparative MS therapies.