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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Mar 1988; 85(5): 1544–1548.
PMCID: PMC279809

Merosin, a protein specific for basement membranes of Schwann cells, striated muscle, and trophoblast, is expressed late in nerve and muscle development.


We have identified a tissue-specific basement membrane-associated protein by using monoclonal antibodies prepared against a protein fraction of human placenta. In immunofluorescence, the monoclonal antibodies stained basement membranes of Schwann cells, striated muscle, and trophoblast, whereas no reaction was seen with any other basement membrane or tissue structure. In antibody-affinity chromatography of proteolytic digests of human placenta, a 65-kDa polypeptide was bound by these monoclonal antibodies. Rabbit antisera and monoclonal antibodies raised against the isolated 65-kDa polypeptide stained human and monkey tissues identically to the original monoclonal antibodies and reacted with an 80-kDa polypeptide in tissue extracts prepared without proteolysis. The 65-kDa and 80-kDa polypeptides were shown to be immunologically distinct from laminin, type IV collagen, fibronectin, and major serum proteins. They presumably represent a novel basement membrane-associated protein, which we have named merosin. No merosin immunoreactivity could be detected in cultures of any of 28 established cell lines. In developing mouse tissues, merosin staining first appeared at the newborn stage. The restricted tissue distribution and late developmental appearance of merosin suggest that the protein has a tissue-specific function associated with a high level of differentiation.

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