Distribution of Myelin Basic Protein and P2 mRNAs in Rabbit Spinal Cord Oligodendrocytes


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. P. J. Brophy at Division of Cell Biology and Biochemistry, School of Molecular and Biological Sciences, University of Stirling. Stirling FK9 4LA, U.K.


Abstract: Myelin basic protein (MBP) and P2 protein are small positively charged proteins found in oligodendrocytes of rabbit spinal cord. Both proteins become incorporated into compact myelin. We have begun investigations into the mechanisms by which MBP and P2 become incorporated into the myelin membrane. We find that P2, like the MBPs, is synthesized on free polysomes in rabbit spinal cord. Cell fractionation experiments reveal that rabbit MBP mRNAs are preferentially segregated to the peripheral myelinating regions whereas P2 mRNAs are predominantly localized within the perikaryon of the cell. In vitro synthesized rabbit MBP readily associates with membranes added to translation mixtures, whereas P2 protein does not. It is possible that P2 requires a “receptor” molecule, perhaps a membrane-anchored protein, for association with the cytoplasmic face of the myelin membrane.