• Myelin basic protein;
  • Myelin proteolipid protein;
  • Immunocytochemistry;
  • Oligodendrocytes;
  • Electron microscopy;
  • Golgi apparatus

Abstract: Electron microscopic immunocytochemical studies were carried out to localize myelin basic protein and myelin proteolipid protein during the active period of myelination in the developing rat brain using antisera to purified rat brain myelin proteolipid protein and large basic protein. The anti-large basic protein serum was shown by the immunoblot technique to cross-react with all five forms of basic protein present in the myelin of 8-day-old rat brain. Basic protein was localized diffusely in oligodendrocytes and their processes at very early stages in myelination. The immunostaining for basic protein was not specifically associated with any subcellular structures or organelles. The ultrastructural localization of basic protein suggests that it may be involved in fusion of the cytoplasmic faces of the oligodendrocyte processes during compaction of myelin. Immunoreactivity in the oligodendrocyte and myelin due to proteolipid protein appeared at a later stage of myelination than did that due to basic protein. Staining for proteolipid protein in the oligodendrocyte was restricted to the membranes of the rough endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi apparatus, and apparent Golgi vesicles. The early, uncompacted periaxonal wrappings of oligodendrocyte processes were well stained with antiserum to large basic protein whereas staining for proteolipid protein was visible only after the compaction of myelin sheaths had begun. Our evidence indicates that basic protein and proteolipid protein are processed differently by the oligodendrocytes with regard to their subcellular localization and their time of appearance in the developing myelin sheath.