Molecular & Cellular Proteomics
PubMedCentral® Full Text Version
The nervous system consists of neurons and glial cells. Neurons generate and propagate electrical and chemical signals, whereas glia function mainly to modulate neuron function and signaling. Just as there are many different kinds of neurons with different roles, there are also many types of glia that perform diverse functions. For example, glia make myelin; modulate synapse formation, function, and elimination; regulate blood flow and metabolism; and maintain ionic and water homeostasis to name only a few. Although proteomic approaches have been used extensively to understand neurons, the same cannot be said for glia. Importantly, like neurons, glial cells have unique protein compositions that reflect their diverse functions, and these compositions can change depending on activity or disease. Here, I discuss the major classes and functions of glial cells in the central and peripheral nervous systems. I describe proteomic approaches that have been used to investigate glial cell function and composition and the experimental limitations faced by investigators working with glia.
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