Myelin basic protein (MBP) isoforms in the myelin sheath are known to have distinct intracellular expression patterns, which are profoundly related to functional specificity. Determining the differential localization of MBP isoforms is therefore important for understanding their pathophysiological roles. In this study, we have developed a new method for phase separation of myelin. The non-ionic detergent Triton X-114 is used to solubilize myelin sheath which then undergoes phase separation to yield four fractions. The lipid raft-associated proteins and lipids in each fraction were analysed by immunoblotting and lipid analysis, respectively. The present method gives two lipid raft-enriched fractions, one of them was found to contain only lipid raft-associated galactocerebroside and cholesterol as the major lipids. The 21.5-kDa MBP isoforms (21.5 MBP), both unphosphorylated and phosphorylated, were exclusively contained in this fraction. Phosphorylated 21.5 MBP (21.5 pMBP) has been shown to specifically disappear from demyelinated loci. The present analytical method clearly indicated that disappearance of 21.5 pMBP corresponded to demyelination and its reappearance corresponded to prevention of demyelination. Demyelination was also associated with aging and was prevented by the myelin-protecting herbal medicine, Chinpi, a type of dried citrus peel.
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