• oligodendrocyte;
  • myelin basic protein;
  • autophagic vacuole;
  • dysmyelination


Duplication of PLP1, an X-linked gene encoding the major myelin membrane protein of the human CNS, is the most frequent cause of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD). Transgenic mice with extra copies of the wild type Plp1 gene, a valid model of PMD, also develop a dysmyelinating phenotype dependant on gene dosage. In this study we have examined the effect of increasing Plp1 gene dosage on levels of PLP/DM20 and on other representative myelin proteins. In cultured oligodendrocytes and early myelinating oligodendrocytes in vivo, increased gene dosage leads to elevated levels of PLP/DM20 in the cell body. During myelination, small increases in Plp1 gene dosage (mice hemizygous for the transgene) elevate the level of PLP/DM20 in oligodendrocyte soma but cause only minimal and transient effects on the protein composition and structure of myelin suggesting that cells can regulate the incorporation of proteins into myelin. However, larger increases in dosage (mice homozygous for the transgene) are not well tolerated, leading to hypomyelination and alteration in the cellular distribution of PLP/DM20. A disproportionate amount of PLP/DM20 is retained in the cell soma, probably in autophagic vacuoles and lysosomes whereas the level in myelin is reduced. Increased Plp1 gene dosage affects other myelin proteins, particularly MBP, which is transitorily reduced in hemizygous mice but consistently and markedly lower in homozygotes in both myelin and naïve or early myelinating oligodendrocytes. Whether the reduced MBP is implicated in the pathogenesis of dysmyelination is yet to be established. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.