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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Oct;86(20):8128-31.

Mutation of the proteolipid protein gene PLP in a human X chromosome-linked myelin disorder.

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  • 1Laboratory of Viral and Molecular Pathogenesis, National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Myelin is a highly specialized membrane unique to the nervous system that ensheaths axons to permit the rapid saltatory conduction of impulses. The elaboration of a compact myelin sheath is disrupted in a diverse spectrum of human disorders, many of which are of unknown etiology. The X chromosome-linked human disorder Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease is a clinically and pathologically heterogeneous group of disorders that demonstrate a striking failure of oligodendrocyte differentiation. This disease appears pathologically and genetically to be similar to the disorder seen in the dysmyelinating mouse mutant jimpy, which has a point mutation in the gene encoding an abundant myelin protein, proteolipid protein (PLP). We report that the molecular defect in one Pelizaeus-Merzbacher family is likewise a point mutation in the PLP gene. A single T----C transition results in the substitution of a charged amino acid residue, arginine, for tryptophan in one of the four extremely hydrophobic domains of the PLP protein. The identification of a mutation in this Pelizaeus-Merzbacher family should facilitate the molecular classification and diagnosis of these X chromosome-linked human dysmyelinating disorders.

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