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PLoS Biol. 2013;11(6):e1001577. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001577. Epub 2013 Jun 4.

Myelin membrane assembly is driven by a phase transition of myelin basic proteins into a cohesive protein meshwork.

Author information

1
Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine, Göttingen, Germany.

Abstract

Rapid conduction of nerve impulses requires coating of axons by myelin. To function as an electrical insulator, myelin is generated as a tightly packed, lipid-rich multilayered membrane sheath. Knowledge about the mechanisms that govern myelin membrane biogenesis is required to understand myelin disassembly as it occurs in diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Here, we show that myelin basic protein drives myelin biogenesis using weak forces arising from its inherent capacity to phase separate. The association of myelin basic protein molecules to the inner leaflet of the membrane bilayer induces a phase transition into a cohesive mesh-like protein network. The formation of this protein network shares features with amyloid fibril formation. The process is driven by phenylalanine-mediated hydrophobic and amyloid-like interactions that provide the molecular basis for protein extrusion and myelin membrane zippering. These findings uncover a physicochemical mechanism of how a cytosolic protein regulates the morphology of a complex membrane architecture. These results provide a key mechanism in myelin membrane biogenesis with implications for disabling demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system.

PMID:
23762018
PMCID:
PMC3676292
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pbio.1001577
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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