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J Neurochem. 2002 May;81(3):636-45.

Mass-spectrometric analysis of myelin proteolipids reveals new features of this family of palmitoylated membrane proteins.

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Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of New Mexico-Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131-5218, USA.


In this study, we have investigated the structure of the native myelin proteolipid protein (PLP), DM-20 protein and several low molecular mass proteolipids by mass spectrometry. The various proteolipid species were isolated from bovine spinal cord by size-exclusion and ion-exchange chromatography in organic solvents. Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight-mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) of PLP and DM-20 revealed molecular masses of 31.6 and 27.2 kDa, respectively, which is consistent with the presence of six and four molecules of thioester-bound fatty acids. Electrospray ionization-MS analysis of the deacylated proteins in organic solvents produced the predicted molecular masses of the apoproteins (29.9 and 26.1 kDa), demonstrating that palmitoylation is the major post-translational modification of PLP, and that the majority of PLP and DM-20 molecules in the CNS are fully acylated. A series of myelin-associated, palmitoylated proteolipids with molecular masses raging between 12 kDa and 18 kDa were also isolated and subjected to amino acid analysis, fatty acid analysis, N- and C-terminal sequencing, tryptic digestion and peptide mapping by MALDI-TOF-MS. The results clearly showed that these polypeptides correspond to the N-terminal region (residues 1-105/112) and C-terminal region (residues 113/131-276) of the major PLP, and they appear to be produced by natural proteolytic cleavage within the 60 amino acid-long cytoplasmic domain. These proteolipids are not postmortem artifacts of PLP and DM-20, and are differentially distributed across the CNS.

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