Alternative products of the proteolipid protein gene (PLP), proteolipid protein (PLP) and DM20, are major components of compact myelin in the central nervous system, but quantitatively minor constituents of Schwann cells. A family with a null allele of PLP has a less severe CNS phenotype than those with other types of PLP mutations. Moreover, individuals with PLP null mutations have a demyelinating peripheral neuropathy, not seen with other PLP mutations of humans or animals. Direct analysis of normal peripheral nerve demonstrates that PLP is localized to compact myelin. This and the clinical and pathologic observations of the PLP null phenotype indicate that PLP/DM20 is necessary for proper myelin function both in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
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