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Study of myelin purity in relation to axonal contaminants


Axonal remnants are considered a probable source of contamination of isolated myelin in view of the relatively tight axon-glial intercellular junction. Using the rabbit optic system to label specifically axonal components, we have found the levels of such contaminants to depend on the myelin isolation procedure, the tissue source, and the nature of the contaminant. A procedure employing repetitive treatments with EGTA was found to be highly effective in removing proline-labeled axonal proteins, the estimated upper limit of such contamination being approximately 0.6–1.2% of the myelin protein. The standard isolation procedure of Norton and Poduslo, supplemented with an additional discontinuous gradient step, proved equally effective in removing rapidly transported proteins from myelin isolated from the superior colliculus or lateral geniculate body. When the optic tract was the source, however, the EGTA procedure proved more effective in removing both rapidly and slowly transported proteins. Axonal gangliosides labeled with N-[3H]acetylmannosamine were efficiently removed by both procedures, adding support to the proposition that gangliosides detected in isolated myelin are intrinsic to that membrane.

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Correspondence to Robert W. Ledeen.

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Haley, J.E., Samuels, F.G. & Ledeen, R.W. Study of myelin purity in relation to axonal contaminants. Cell Mol Neurobiol 1, 175–187 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00710718

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Key words

  • myelin
  • myelin purity
  • myelin proteins
  • myelin gangliosides