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Neuromuscul Disord. 2001 Mar;11(2):146-53.

Abnormalities in the expression of nebulin in chromosome-2 linked nemaline myopathy.

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Department of Histopathology, Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital NHS Trust, SY10 7AG, Oswestry, UK.


Nemaline myopathy is clinically and genetically heterogeneous. The most common autosomal recessive form affecting infants (NEM2) links to chromosome 2q, and is caused by mutations in the gene for nebulin. We have examined the immunocytochemical expression of nebulin in skeletal muscle in 11 cases of nemaline myopathy, from ten families, with linkage compatible to chromosome 2q.22, the locus for nebulin. Mutations in the gene for nebulin have been found in eight of these cases. Immunolabelling with polyclonal antibodies to C-terminal regions of nebulin was compared with antibodies to fibre-type-specific myofibrillar proteins, including myosin heavy chain isoforms and alpha-actinin isoforms. No cases showed a complete absence of C-terminal nebulin, and no enhancement of labelling of the rods was seen with conventional fluorescence microscopy. In control muscle an antibody to the M176-181 repeat region of nebulin showed higher expression in fibres with slow myosin, while ones to the serine-rich domain and to the SH3 domain showed uniform expression. In some cases of nemaline myopathy differences in these patterns were observed. Two siblings with a homozygous mutation in exon 185, that produces a stop codon, showed an absence of labelling only with the SH3 antibody, and other cases showed uneven labelling with this antibody or some fibres devoid of label. Fibre type correlations also showed differences from controls, as some fibres had a fast isoform of one protein but a slow isoform of another. These results indicate that analysis of nebulin expression may detect abnormalities in some cases linked to the corresponding locus and may help to direct molecular analysis. In addition, they may also be relevant to studies of fibre type plasticity and diversity in nemaline myopathy.

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