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Mol Biol Cell. 2002 Jul;13(7):2347-59.

Sarcolemmal organization in skeletal muscle lacking desmin: evidence for cytokeratins associated with the membrane skeleton at costameres.

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Department of Physiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


The sarcolemma of fast-twitch muscle is organized into "costameres," structures that are oriented transversely, over the Z and M lines of nearby myofibrils, and longitudinally, to form a rectilinear lattice. Here we examine the role of desmin, the major intermediate filament protein of muscle in organizing costameres. In control mouse muscle, desmin is enriched at the sarcolemmal domains that lie over nearby Z lines and that also contain beta-spectrin. In tibialis anterior muscle from mice lacking desmin due to homologous recombination, most costameres are lost. In myofibers from desmin -/- quadriceps, by contrast, most costameric structures are stable. Alternatively, Z line domains may be lost, whereas domains oriented longitudinally or lying over M lines are retained. Experiments with pan-specific antibodies to intermediate filament proteins and to cytokeratins suggest that control and desmin -/- muscles express similar levels of cytokeratins. Cytokeratins concentrate at the sarcolemma at all three domains of costameres when the latter are retained in desmin -/- muscle and redistribute with beta-spectrin at the sarcolemma when costameres are lost. Our results suggest that desmin associates with and selectively stabilizes the Z line domains of costameres, but that cytokeratins associate with all three domains of costameres, even in the absence of desmin.

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