The myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) is an integral membrane protein (congruent to 100,000 mol wt) which is a minor component of purified peripheral nervus system (PNS) myelin. In the present study, MAG was localized immunocytochemically in 1-micrometer thick Epon sections of 7-d and adult rat peripheral nerves, and its localization was compared to that of the major structural protein (Po) of PNS myelin. To determine more precisely the localization of MAG, immunostained areas in 1 micrometer sections were traced on electron micrographs of identical areas from adjacently cut thin sections.l MAG was localized in periaxonal membranes. Schmidt-Lantermann incisures, paranodal membranes, and the outer mesaxon of PNS myelin sheaths. Compact regions of PNS myelin did not react with MAG antiserum. The results demonstrate MAG's presence in "'semi-compact" Schwann cell or myelin membranes that have a gap of 12-14 nm between extracellular leaflets and a spacing of 5 nm or more between cytoplasmic leaflets. In compact regions of the myelin sheath which do not contain MAG, the cytoplasmic leaflets are "fused" and form the major dense line, whereas the extracellular leaflets are separated by a 2.0 nm gap appearing as paired minor dense lines. Thus, it is proposed that MAG plays a role in maintaining the periaxonal space, Schmidt-Lantermann incisures, paranodal myelin loops, and outer mesaxon by preventing "complete" compaction of Schwann cell and myelin membranes. The presence of MAG in these locations also suggests that MAG may serve a function in regulating myelination in the PNS.

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