Abstract: Incubation of highly purified human myelin at 25° and pH 8 in ammonium bicarbonate buffer resulted in the conversion of the myelin‐associated glycoprotein (MAG) to a smaller derivative (dMAG) with an apparent molecular weight about 10,000 less. dMAG was stable and was not degraded to lower‐molecular‐weight breakdown products. Incubation of myelin under these conditions also resulted in the degradation of basic protein, but at a much slower rate. Half of the MAG was converted to dMAG in about 30 min, whereas degradation of half of the basic protein required 18 h of incubation. There was no significant loss of proteolipid, the Wolfgram doublet, or other myelin proteins during incubation for up to 18 h under these conditions. The formation of dMAG and the degradation of basic protein appear to be mediated by similar enzymatic activities; both processes exhibited broad pH optima in the neutral range, were prevented by briefly heating the myelin to 70° before incubation, and were stimulated by ammonium bicarbonate and other salts. Incubation of purified rat myelin also resulted in the formation of dMAG and the degradation of basic protein, but the conversion to dMAG occurred much more slowly than in human myelin preparations. In the rat, the percentage decreases in intact MAG and in basic protein were similar to each other and proceeded at rates comparable to the loss of basic protein in human myelin. These studies confirm and extend earlier demonstrations of neutral protease activity in purified myelin, and show that cleavage of MAG is one of the effects of this activity. The proteolytic activity affecting MAG and basic protein was not significantly reduced by further purification of the myelin on sucrose or CsCl gradients, suggesting that the neutral protease may be a myelin‐related enzyme. The very high susceptibility of human MAG to this enzyme indicates that the effect of neutral protease on this glycoprotein should be considered in connection with demyelinating diseases.
Journal of Neurochemistry – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1982
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