Oligodendrocytes (OLs) provide the myelin sheath surrounding axons that propagates action potentials in the central nervous system (CNS). The metabolism of myelinated membranes and proteins is strictly regulated in the OLs and is closely associated with OL differentiation and maturation. The ubiquitination-associated proteasome and endosomal system have not yet been well studied during OL differentiation and maturation. Here, we determined the functions of the Lys63-linked ubiquitination (K63Ub) and K63-specific deubiquitination (DUB) systems regulated by BRCA1/BRCA2-containing complex subunit 3 (BRCC3) during OL differentiation. The competitive inhibition of K63Ub by overexpression of mutant ubiquitin (K63R) in oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) indicated that the two major CNS myelin proteins, myelin basic protein (MBP) and proteolipid protein (PLP), were upregulated in OLs derived from K63R OPCs. In contrast, the knockdown of BRCC3 (BRCC3-KD) through the application of lentivirus-mediated shRNA delivery system into OPCs suppressed OL differentiation by decreasing MBP expression and PLP production. Further immunoprecipitation assays revealed higher levels of sphingolipid GalC, MBP, and PLP, which were associated with K63Ub-immunoprecipitants and detected in endosome/lysosomal compartments, in BRCC3-KD OLs than those in OLs transfected with the scrambled shRNA (scramble OLs). The differentiation of OLs from BRCC3-KD OPCs was impaired in the demyelinating corpus callosum of rats receiving a cuprizone-containing diet. In the demyelinating tissues from human patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, we detected a decreased number of BRCC3-expressing OLs at the lesion site, accompanied by a greater number of OLs expressing EEA1 and K63Ub at high levels. Altogether, the counterbalance of the K63Ub machinery and BRCC3-triggered DUB machinery are important for the cellular trafficking of myelin proteins and OL differentiation.
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