Genetics of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease

Dev Neurosci. 1993;15(6):383-94. doi: 10.1159/000111361.


Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD) has been recognized as a clinical entity for more than a century. It has gradually become apparent that the disorder is a dysmyelination, in distinction to demyelinating conditions such as adrenoleukodystrophy. The failure to deposit myelin is due to decreased production of its chief protein, proteolipid protein (PLP). In about 30% of patients with the diagnosis of PMD there is a mutation in the coding portion of the proteolipid protein gene, PLP. This gene is located at Xq22 so the disease in these families shows an X-linked pattern of inheritance. The expression of the mutant gene is generally recessive, but some mutations are expressed frequently in females. At least some patients with PMD that do not show mutations in the coding region of PLP demonstrate linkage between the disease and PLP. As additional mutations in PLP are discovered, it is becoming apparent that the nosology of PLP-associated disease is changing. PMD now comprises a spectrum of disorders with similar but not necessarily identical clinical pictures. Some of these disorders may be certain forms of X-linked paraplegia, SPG2. Finally, some diseases that look like PMD may not be X-linked.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Diffuse Cerebral Sclerosis of Schilder / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Myelin Proteins / genetics
  • Myelin Proteolipid Protein


  • Myelin Proteins
  • Myelin Proteolipid Protein

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M27111