Glycoproteins in Myelin and Myelin-Related Membranes

  • Richard H. Quarles


Glycoproteins are well established as cell-surface components and appear to participate in specific cell-cell interactions. Myelin is formed as an extension of the plasma membrane of the oligodendrocyte in the central nervous system (CNS) and the Schwann cell in the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that glycoproteins could be present in the myelin membrane and be involved in the formation of the spiraled myelin sheath around the axon. Histochemical studies at the light-microscopic level by Wolman (1957) and Wolman and Hestrin-Lerner (1960) indicated the presence of polysaccharide in myelin. On the basis of early electron-microscopic studies, Robertson (1959) suggested that the intra-period region of peripheral myelin contained polysaccharide or glycoprotein material, possibly derived from the surface of the Schwann cell. Later, Peterson and Pease (1972) developed a specialized embedding technique and stained with silicotungstic acid to provide electron-microscopic evidence for the presence of glycoproteins in the intraperiod line of peripheral myelin, supporting Robertson’s earlier hypothesis. The first direct biochemical demonstration of glycoproteins in purified myelin was provided by Margolis (1967), who showed that N-acetylglucosamine is present in several protein fractions obtained from bovine CNS myelin and that glycosaminoglycans are not present. Nevertheless, the nature of the glycoprotein components in myelin remained poorly defined.


Sciatic Nerve Myelin Protein Myelin Membrane Floating Fraction Myelin Fraction 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard H. Quarles
    • 1
  1. 1.Section on Myelin and Brain Development, Developmental and Metabolic Neurology BranchNINCDS, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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