The synthesis and methylation in vivo of myelin basic protein (MBP) during the mouse brain development has been investigated. When mice ranging in age from 13 to 60 days were injected intracerebrally with L-[methyl-3H]methionine, the incorporation of radioactivity into MBP isolated from youngest brain was found to be the highest and declined progressively in mature brains. This pattern of radioactivity incorporation was inversely correlated with the total amount of MBP in the brains, suggesting a higher ratio of MBP methylation to synthesis in younger brain. To differentiate the relative rate of protein synthesis and methylation, animals were given intracerebral injections of a L-[methyl-3H]methionine and L-[35S]methionine mixture and the ratio of 3H/35S (methylation index) was determined. The ratios in the isolated MBP fractions were higher than those of ‘acid extracts’ and ‘breakthrough’ fractions, with a maximal ratio in the youngest brain. This high ratio was well correlated with the higher protein methylase I (PMI) activity in younger brains. The MBP fractions were further separated on SDS/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis into several species with apparent Mr ranging from 32,400 to 14,500. The results indicated that each protein species accumulated at a characteristic rate as a function of age. The high-Mr (32,400) species was predominant in younger brain, whereas the smaller MBP was the major species in older brain tissue. The importance of this developmental pattern of MBP synthesis and methylation is discussed in relation to PMI activity.
- © 1986 London: The Biochemical Society