Galactolipids in the formation and function of the myelin sheath

Jeffrey L. Dupree, Kinuko Suzuki, Brian Popko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Among the most abundant components of myelin are the galactolipids galactocerebroside (GalC) and sulfatide. In spite of this abundance, the roles that these molecules play in the myelin sheath are not well understood. Until recently, our concept of GalC and sulfatide functions had been principally defined by immunological and chemical perturbation studies that implicate these lipids in oligodendrocyte differentiation, myelin formation, and myelin stability. Recently, however, genetic studies have allowed us to re-analyze the functions of these lipids. Two laboratories have independently generated mice that are incapable of synthesizing either GalC or sulfatide by inactivating the gene encoding the enzyme UDP-galactose:ceramide galactosyltransferase (CGT), which is required for myelin galactolipid synthesis. These galactolipid-deficient animals exhibit a severe tremor, hindlimb paralysis, and display electrophysiological deficits in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. In addition, ultrastructural studies have revealed hypomyelinated white matter tracts with unstable myelin sheaths and a variety of myelin abnormalities including altered node length, reversed lateral loops, and compromised axo-oligodendrocytic junctions. Collectively, these observations indicate that cell-cell interactions, which are essential in the formation and maintenance of a properly functioning myelin sheath, are compromised in these galactolipid-deficient mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-440
Number of pages10
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1 1998


  • Galactocerebroside
  • Sulfatide
  • UDP-galactose:ceramide galactosyltransferase
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Anatomy
  • Histology


Dive into the research topics of 'Galactolipids in the formation and function of the myelin sheath'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this