Systematic approaches to central nervous system myelin

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012 Sep;69(17):2879-94. doi: 10.1007/s00018-012-0958-9. Epub 2012 Mar 23.


Rapid signal propagation along vertebrate axons is facilitated by their insulation with myelin, a plasma membrane specialization of glial cells. The recent application of 'omics' approaches to the myelinating cells of the central nervous system, oligodendrocytes, revealed their mRNA signatures, enhanced our understanding of how myelination is regulated, and established that the protein composition of myelin is much more complex than previously thought. This review provides a meta-analysis of the > 1,200 proteins thus far identified by mass spectrometry in biochemically purified central nervous system myelin. Contaminating proteins are surprisingly infrequent according to bioinformatic prediction of subcellular localization and comparison with the transcriptional profile of oligodendrocytes. The integration of datasets also allowed the subcategorization of the myelin proteome into functional groups comprising genes that are coregulated during oligodendroglial differentiation. An unexpectedly large number of myelin-related genes cause-when mutated in humans-hereditary diseases affecting the physiology of the white matter. Systematic approaches to oligodendrocytes and myelin thus provide valuable resources for the molecular dissection of developmental myelination, glia-axonal interactions, leukodystrophies, and demyelinating diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / metabolism*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism*