Myelin Basic Protein (MBP) is one of the major proteins of the myelin sheath surrounding axons in the nervous system. Since it is of relatively low molecular weight and high abundance the protein sequence was determined from purified protein over 30 years ago. The protein is made by oligodendrocytes in the central and nervous system, so antibodies to MBP are good markers of this cell type. In the peripheral nervous system MBP is expressed by myelinating Schwann cells so this antibody can be used to identify these cells in culture or sectioned materials. In the central nervous system four different forms of the protein made by alternate transcription from a single gene, the protein products having molecular weights of 21.5, 20.5, 18.5, and 17.2kDa in humans. The single gene of rodents also produces 4 different proteins but the splicing mechanism is different producing four forms of slightly different sizes, 21.5, 18.5, 17 and 14kDa. Some interest has focused on MBP as a potentially significant auto-antigen involved in mouse models of multiple sclerosis and in human patients. Detection of MBP released into blood and CSF has some potential as a surrogate biomarker of demyelination and axonal loss in MS and other relevant damage and disease states.
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