The peripheral myelin protein 22 (PMP22) and the epithelial membrane proteins (EMP-1, -2, and -3) comprise a subfamily of small hydrophobic membrane proteins. The putative four-transmembrane domain structure as well as the genomic structure are highly conserved among family members. PMP22 and EMPs are expressed in many tissues, and functions in cell growth, differentiation, and apoptosis have been reported. EMP-1 is highly up-regulated during squamous differentiation and in certain tumors, and a role in tumorigenesis has been proposed. PMP22 is most highly expressed in peripheral nerves, where it is localized in the compact portion of myelin. It plays a crucial role in normal physiological and pathological processes in the peripheral nervous system. Progress in molecular genetics has revealed that genetic alterations in the PMP22 gene, including duplications, deletions, and point mutations, are responsible for several forms of hereditary peripheral neuropathies, including Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A (CMTIA), Dejerine-Sottas syndrome (DDS), and hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsies (HNPP). The natural mouse mutants Trembler and Trembler-J contain a missense mutation in different hydrophobic domains of PMP22, resulting in demyelination and Schwann cell proliferation. Transgenic mice carrying many copies of the PMP22 gene and PMP22-null mice display a variety of defects in the initial steps of myelination and/or maintenance of myelination, whereas no pathological alterations are detected in other tissues normally expressing PMP22. Further characterization of the interactions of PMP22 and EMPs with other proteins as well as their regulation will provide additional intight into their normal physiological function and their roles in disease and possibly will result in the development of therapeutic tools. © 2000.