• Action potential conduction;
  • Protein phosphorylation;
  • Myelin basic protein

Abstract: The influence of action potential conduction in myelinated axons on the state of phosphorylation of myelin basic protein was studied in rat optic nerve incubated in vitro. For this purpose we used a technique that permits continuous recording of the responses of nerves to electrical stimulation together with the “back-phosphorylation” assay. Our results indicate that action potential conduction, but not electrical stimulation, increased the state of phosphorylation of myelin basic protein. The increment in basic protein phosphorylation was related to the number of impulses conducted, up to a maximal change which occurred after 12 × 103 impulses. Also, the effect of action potential conduction was reversible, since the state of myelin basic protein phosphorylation returned to control levels within 5 min of stopping stimulation. These findings raise the interesting possibility that myelin basic protein phosphorylation plays a role in some dynamic function of myelin, perhaps related to ion transport or to the process of recovery of ionic gradients.