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Genes Dev. 2008 Jun 15;22(12):1647-61. doi: 10.1101/gad.1638008.

Phosphatidic acid mediates demyelination in Lpin1 mutant mice.

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  • 1Department of Medical Genetics, University of Lausanne, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Lipids play crucial roles in many aspects of glial cell biology, affecting processes ranging from myelin membrane biosynthesis to axo-glial interactions. In order to study the role of lipid metabolism in myelinating glial cells, we specifically deleted in Schwann cells the Lpin1 gene, which encodes the Mg2+-dependent phosphatidate phosphatase (PAP1) enzyme necessary for normal triacylglycerol biosynthesis. The affected animals developed pronounced peripheral neuropathy characterized by myelin degradation, Schwann cell dedifferentiation and proliferation, and a reduction in nerve conduction velocity. The observed demyelination is mediated by endoneurial accumulation of the substrate of the PAP1 enzyme, phosphatidic acid (PA). In addition, we show that PA is a potent activator of the MEK-Erk pathway in Schwann cells, and that this activation is required for PA-induced demyelination. Our results therefore reveal a surprising role for PA in Schwann cell fate determination and provide evidence of a direct link between diseases affecting lipid metabolism and abnormal Schwann cell function.

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