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A point mutation in the proteolipid protein gene of the ‘shaking pup’ interrupts oligodendrocyte development
N.L. Nadon, I.D. Duncan, L.D. Hudson


The differentiation of the oligodendrocyte from its bipotential progenitor culminates in the production of the myelin-specific proteins and the elaboration of membrane processes that ensheath the axon. Mutations in proteolipid protein (PLP) and its alternatively spliced isoform DM-20, the major protein constituents of central nervous system myelin, are characterized by a significant reduction in the number of mature oligodendrocytes, resulting in severe hypomyelination, tremor and early death. The canine shaking pup carries such a mutation, a single base change that substitutes a proline for a histidine near the first transmembrane region of PLP and DM-20. This mutation hinders oligodendrocyte differentiation, as evidence by a splicing pattern at the PLP locus characteristic of immature oligodendrocytes. The spliced transcript expressed earliest in development, DM-20, continues to be overexpressed in shaking pup oligodendrocytes. The disruption of the normal maturation schedule in these X-linked dysmyelinating disorders suggests that PLP or DM-20 plays a fundamental role in oligodendrocyte development. We propose that, while the more abundant PLP is the primary structural component of myelin, DM-20 may be critical to oligodendrocyte maturation.