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J Biol Chem. 1991 Sep 15;266(26):17092-8.

Rapid metabolism of fatty acids covalently bound to myelin proteolipid protein.

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Biochemistry Department, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque 87131.


Proteolipid protein (PLP), the major protein of central nervous system myelin, contains approximately 2 mol of covalently bound fatty acids. In this study, the in vivo turnover rate of the acyl chains bound to PLP was determined in 40-day-old rats after a single intracranial injection of [3H]palmitic acid. The apparent half-life of total fatty acids bound to PLP was approximately 7 days. After correction for acyl chain interconversion, the half-life of palmitate bound to PLP was only 3 days. This turnover rate is much more rapid than that of the protein moiety calculated under the same experimental conditions (t1/2 = 1 month). Additional evidence for the dynamic metabolism of acyl groups was provided by experiments in brain tissue slices which showed that acylation of PLP occurs in adult animals as well as during active myelination. Acylation of endogenous PLP in purified myelin and its subfractions was also studied during rat brain development using either [3H]palmitoyl-CoA or [3H]palmitic acid plus ATP and CoA. Labeling of endogenous PLP with [3H]palmitoyl-CoA was observed as early as 10 days postnatal and continued at the same rate throughout development. When [3H]palmitic acid was used as precursor in the presence of both ATP and CoA, esterification of myelin PLP occurred rapidly in adult animals, indicating that both nonacylated PLP and acyl-CoA ligase are present in myelin. Finally, pulse-chase experiments in a cell-free system showed that PLP-bound fatty acids turn over with a half-life shorter than 10 min. These observations are consistent with the concept that acylation of myelin PLP is a dynamic process involved mainly in myelin maintenance and function.

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