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Exp Cell Res. 1991 Jul;195(1):99-109.

Comparison of agrin-like proteins from the extracellular matrix of chicken kidney and muscle with neural agrin, a synapse organizing protein.

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Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226.


Agrin is a synapse-organizing protein that is concentrated in embryonic motor neurons and the synaptic basal lamina of the neuromuscular junction. Agrin or closely related proteins are also associated with most other basal laminae. Here I report that the major agrin-like proteins from the nervous system and other tissues of the chicken are immunochemically and biochemically similar. Four major agrin-like proteins of approximately 60, 72, 80, and 90 kDa were identified on immunoblots of agrin preparations from both neural and non-neural tissues. Agrin-like proteins from embryonic chicken brain and adult kidney were similar in amino acid composition. Rabbit antisera against each of the kidney proteins labeled basement membranes of several tissues, as well as spinal cord motor neurons. These antibodies specifically precipitated and inhibited acetylcholine receptor (AChR)-aggregating activity from the chicken nervous system and Torpedo electric organ. Thus, the agrin-like proteins of non-neural tissues in the chicken are closely related to agrin from the nervous system. However, the AChR-aggregating activity of chicken agrin preparations differed depending on the tissue of origin. Agrin enriched by immunoaffinity chromatography from the central nervous system induced large numbers of AChR aggregates on cultured myotubes. In contrast, agrin preparations from other chicken tissues induced dramatically fewer and smaller AChR aggregates. The difference in biological activity between these agrin preparations may reflect differential inactivation or the existence of tissue- or cell-specific isoforms of agrin.

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