White matter abnormalities are an emerging pathological feature of schizophrenia. However, their attributions to the disease remain largely elusive. ErbB receptors and their ligands, some of which are essential for peripheral myelination, confer susceptibility to schizophrenia. By synergistically manipulating ErbB receptor activities in a oligodendrocyte-stage-specific manner in mice after early development, we demonstrate the distinct effects of ErbB signaling on oligodendrocytes at various differentiation states. ErbB overactivation, in mature oligodendrocytes, induces necroptosis causing demyelination, whereas in oligodendrocyte precursor cells, induces apoptosis causing hypomyelination. In contrast, ErbB inhibition increases oligodendrocyte precursor cell proliferation but induces hypomyelination by suppressing the myelinating capabilities of newly-formed oligodendrocytes. Remarkably, ErbB inhibition in mature oligodendrocytes diminishes axonal conduction under energy stress and impairs working memory capacity independently of myelin pathology. This study reveals the etiological implications of oligodendrocyte vulnerability induced by ErbB dysregulation, and elucidates the pathogenetic mechanisms for variable structural and functional white matter abnormalities.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience