Structure and Stability of Internodal Myelin in Mouse Models of Hereditary Neuropathy

Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology. 64(11):976-990, November 2005.
Avila, Robin L BS; Inouye, Hideyo PhD; Baek, Rena C BS; Yin, Xinghua MD; Trapp, Bruce D PhD; Feltri, M Laura MD; Wrabetz, Lawrence MD; Kirschner, Daniel A PhD
Peripheral neuropathies often result in abnormalities in the structure of internodal myelin, including changes in period and membrane packing, as observed by electron microscopy (EM). Mutations in the gene that encodes the major adhesive structural protein of internodal myelin in the peripheral nervous system of humans and mice-P0 glycoprotein-correlate with these defects. The mechanisms by which P0 mutations interfere with myelin packing and stability are not well understood and cannot be provided by EM studies that give static and qualitative information on fixed material. To gain insights into the pathogenesis of mutant P0, we used x-ray diffraction, which can detect more subtle and dynamic changes in native myelin, to investigate myelin structure in sciatic nerves from murine models of hereditary neuropathies. We used mice with disruption of one or both copies of the P0 gene (models of Charcot-Marie-Tooth-like neuropathy [CMT1B] or Dejerine-Sottas-like neuropathy) and mice with a CMT1B resulting from a transgene encoding P0 with an amino terminal myc-tag. To directly test the structural role of P0, we also examined a mouse that expresses P0 instead of proteolipid protein in central nervous system myelin. To link our findings on unfixed nerves with EM results, we analyzed x-ray patterns from unembedded, aldehyde-fixed nerves and from plastic-embedded nerves. From the x-ray patterns recorded from whole nerves, we assessed the amount of myelin and its quality (i.e. relative thickness and regularity). Among sciatic nerves having different levels of P0, we found that unfixed nerves and, to a lesser extent, fixed but unembedded nerves gave diffraction patterns of sufficient quality to distinguish periods, sometimes differing by a few A. Certain packing abnormalities were preserved qualitatively by aldehyde fixation, and the relative amount and structural integrity of myelin among nerves could be distinguished. Measurements from the same nerve over time showed that the amount of P0 affected myelin’s stability against swelling, thus directly supporting the hypothesis that packing defects underlie instability in “live” or intact myelin. Our findings demonstrate that diffraction can provide a quantitative basis for understanding, at a molecular level, the membrane packing defects that occur in internodal myelin in demyelinating peripheral neuropathies. [Read more]

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