The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Petri Kursula

Myelin – a living crystal?

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Petri Kursula,
Department of Biomedicine, University of Bergen

Myelin, a tightly packed proteolipid membrane multilayer, is an evolutionary adaptation of the nervous system that enables the existence of vertebrates, due to its ability to promote rapid saltatory conduction of nerve impulses. The disruption of the formation, structure, or function of myelin is causative of chronic neurological diseases in humans and animal models. Nearly 100 years ago, myelinated nerves were shown to produce diffraction patterns upon X-ray exposure, and the major myelin proteins were isolated about 50 years ago. Still, the molecular details of the structure of myelin have remained obscure, which is largely related to the very unique molecular composition of the myelin membrane. I will describe some recent key findings of my research group related to the structure and dynamics of the myelin proteolipid membrane, which involve both peripheral and integral membrane proteins. Current projects and prospective future directions, aimed at elucidating the high-resolution structure of native-like myelin and properties of its molecular constituents, will be discussed.

Chairperson: Jaakko Saraste, Department of Biomedicine