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Dev Biol. 1990 Jun;139(2):279-91.

Membrane skeleton protein 4.1 in developing Xenopus: expression in postmitotic cells of the retina.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle 98195.


Membrane skeleton protein 4.1 plays a key role in modulating the interactions of spectrin, actin, and integral membrane proteins in erythroid and nonerythroid cells. We have investigated its structure and expression during embryonic development of Xenopus laevis. An analysis of the complete 2758-nucleotide sequence and predicted translation of 801 amino acids (85.5 kDa) of X. laevis oocyte protein 4.1 reveals that, within overlapping regions, oocyte protein 4.1 is 74% identical to a composite amino acid sequence of human erythroid and lymphoid protein 4.1 and has an identity similar to that of amino acid motifs variably expressed in either human erythroid or lymphoid protein 4.1 S1 nuclease protection analysis demonstrates the presence of a single species of protein 4.1 transcript in embryos. Antibodies produced against X. laevis protein 4.1 fusion protein recognize two bands of 180 and 115 kDa on Western blots of X. laevis embryos and retina and, using immunocytochemical techniques, label the developing retina most intensely. In vitro transcription of a cDNA construct fully encoding X. laevis protein 4.1 yields a synthetic mRNA which, when translated in vitro, produces a polypeptide that comigrates on SDS-polyacrylamide gels with the 115-kDa form of embryos and retina. Protein 4.1 is found exclusively in photoreceptors following the terminal mitosis of retinal neurons. When retinal synaptogenesis is complete, protein 4.1 is also expressed in the inner retina. In adult amphibian retinas, protein 4.1 is detected in photoreceptors, bipolar cells, and ganglion cell axons. As these cell types have previously been shown to express spectrin, actin, and ankyrin, it is likely that the membrane skeleton of erythrocytes and retinal cells share functional similarities.

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