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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 2000 May;46(1):59-68.

Nonmuscle myosin II localizes to the Z-lines and intercalated discs of cardiac muscle and to the Z-lines of skeletal muscle.

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Pathology Section, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


To understand the role of nonmuscle myosin II in cardiac and skeletal muscle, we used a number of polyclonal antibodies, three detecting nonmuscle myosin heavy chain II-B (NMHC II-B) and two detecting NMHC II-A, to examine the localization of these two proteins in fresh-frozen, acetone-fixed sections of normal human and mouse hearts and human skeletal muscles. Results were similar in both species and were confirmed by examination of fresh-frozen sections of human hearts subjected to no fixation or to treatment with either 4% p-formaldehyde or 50% glycerol. NMHC II-B was diffusely distributed in the cytoplasm of cardiac myocytes during development, but after birth it was localized to the Z-lines and intercalated discs. Dual labeling showed almost complete colocalization of NMHC II-B with alpha-actinin. Whereas endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts showed strong immunoreactivity for NMHC II-A and NMHC II-B, cardiac myocytes only showed reactivity for the latter. The Z-lines of human skeletal muscle cells, in contrast to those of cardiac myocytes, gave positive reactions for both NMHC II-A and NMHC II-B. The presence of a motor protein in the Z-lines and intercalated discs raises the possibility that these structures may play a more dynamic role in the contraction/relaxation mechanism of cardiac and skeletal muscle than has been previously suspected.

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