Synthesis of the Myelin Polypeptides and Mechanisms for their Association with the Membrane
The elucidation of mechanisms by which proteins are synthesized, sorted intracellularly and transferred to specific regions of the plasma membrane of the cell is a challenging problem for cell biologists. A complete description of this process must account for the fact that these proteins achieve the precise spatial disposition at the cell surface that allows for functional interactions with the extracellular or intracellular compartments. In the vertebrate nervous system, the myelin sheath, which is a specialized extension of the plasma membrane of the oligodendrocyte and Schwann cell provides an excellent model for examining this problem. This is in large part because myelin contains only a few major polypeptides (see Fig. 1), which can be easily isolated from purified myelin membranes. The synthesis of these polypeptides can be readily studied in vitro as well as in vivo, and putative mechanisms for their association with each other as well as with the forming myelin membrane can be tested.
KeywordsSchwann Cell Peripheral Nervous System Myelin Basic Protein Myelin Sheath Signal Recognition Particle
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