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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1997 Oct;7(5):654-61.

Myelin glycolipids and their functions.

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Molecular Neuroscience Laboratory, Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Cologne, Germany.


During myelination, oligodendrocytes in the CNS and Schwann cells in the PNS synthesise myelin-specific proteins and lipids for the assembly of the axon myelin sheath. A dominant class of lipids in the myelin bilayer are the glycolipids, which include galactocerebroside (GalC), galactosulfatide (sGalC) and galactodiglyceride (GalDG). A promising approach for unravelling the roles played by various lipids in the myelin membrane involves knocking out the genes encoding important enzymes in lipid biosynthesis. The recent ablation of the ceramide galactosyltransferase ( cgt) gene in mice is the first example. The cgt gene encodes a key enzyme in glycolipid biosynthesis. Its absence causes glycolipid deficiency in the lipid bilayer, breakdown of axon insulation and loss of saltatory conduction. Additional knock-out studies should provide important insights into the various functions of glycolipids in myelinogenesis and myelin structure.

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