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Histochem Cell Biol. 2008 Jul;130(1):91-103. doi: 10.1007/s00418-008-0413-z. Epub 2008 Mar 19.

New aspects of obscurin in human striated muscles.

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Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Section for Anatomy, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


Obscurin is a giant protein (700-800 kDa) present in both skeletal muscles and myocardium. According to animal studies, obscurin interacts with myofibrillar Z-discs during early muscle development, but is translocalised to be predominantly associated with the M-bands in mature muscles. The proposed function for obscurin is in the assembly and organisation of myosin into regular A-bands during formation of new sarcomeres. In the present study, the precise localisation of obscurin in developing and mature normal human striated muscle is presented for the first time. We show that obscurin surrounded myofibrils at the M-band level in both developing and mature human skeletal and heart muscles, which is partly at variance with that observed in animals. At maturity, obscurin also formed links between the peripheral myofibrils and the sarcolemma, and was a distinct component of the neuromuscular junctions. Obscurin should therefore be regarded as an additional component of the extrasarcomeric cytoskeleton. To test this function of obscurin, biopsies from subjects with exercise-induced delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) were examined. In these subjects, myofibrillar alterations related to sarcomerogenesis are observed. Our immunohistochemical analysis revealed that obscurin was never lacking in myofibrillar alterations, but was either preserved at the M-band level or diffusely spread over the sarcomeres. As myosin was absent in such areas but later reincorporated in the newly formed sarcomeres, our results support that obscurin also might play an important role in the formation and maintenance of A-bands.

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