Differential expression of the L- and S-isoforms of myelin associated glycoprotein (MAG) in oligodendrocyte unit phenotypes in the adult rat anterior medullary velum

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SummaryWe have previously demonstrated differences in the expression of carbonic anhydrase II (CAII) in oligodendrocyte units myelinating small and large diameter fibres in the anterior medullary velum (AMV) of the adult rat (each unit comprises the cell body, processes and myelin sheaths). Others have indicated that myelin composition may also vary with respect to myelin basic protein (MBP) and proteolipid protein (PLP), and the small (S)- and large (L)-isoforms of myelin associated glycoprotein (MAG). In this study, we have determined the expression of myelin proteins in oligodendrocyte unit phenotypes I–IV, which myelinate fibres ranging in diameter from 0.3–12 μm diameter in the AMV, by using double immunolabelling for Rip, which labels entire units, and MBP, PLP, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), L-MAG and S-MAG. We show differences in the expression of L- and S-MAG in units which myelinate different diameter fibres: (1) type I/II units myelinating small diameter fibres had a L-MAG+/S-MAG−/CAII+ phenotype; (2) type II/III units myelinating different diameter fibres had a L-MAG+/S-MAG+/CAII+ phenotype; (3) type III/IV units myelinated large diameter fibres had a L-MAG+/S-MAG+/CAII− phenotype. All units, irrespective of fibre diameter, expressed Rip, MBP, PLP and MOG. The results indicate that type I–IV units may be variants of a single oligodendrocyte population and that phenotypic differences are determined by the diameter of fibres within the unit. The possible significance of metabolic and biochemical differences between oligodendrocytes myelinating small and large diameter axons are discussed with reference to the pathology of demyelination.

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