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Dev Biol. 1988 Dec;130(2):471-86.

Basal lamina components are concentrated in premuscle masses and at early acetylcholine receptor clusters in chick embryo hindlimb muscles.

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


As an initial step in characterizing the function of basal lamina components during muscle cell differentiation and innervation in vivo, we have determined immunohistochemically the pattern of expression of three components--laminin, proteins related to agrin (an acetylcholine receptor (AChR)-aggregating protein), and a heparan sulfate proteoglycan--during the development of chick embryo hindlimb muscles. Monoclonal antibodies against agrin were used to purify the protein from the Torpedo ray and to characterize agrin-like proteins from embryonic and adult chicken. In early hindlimb buds (stage 19), antibodies against laminin and agrin stained the ectodermal basement membrane and bound to limb mesenchyme with a generalized, punctate distribution. However, as dorsal and ventral premuscle masses condensed (stage 22-23), mesenchymal immunoreactivity for laminin and agrin-like proteins, but not the proteoglycan, became concentrated in these myogenic regions. Significantly, the preferential accumulation of these molecules in myogenic regions of the limb preceded by 1-2 days the appearance of muscle-specific proteins, myoblast fusion, and muscle innervation. All three basal lamina components were preferentially associated with all AChR clusters from the time we first observed them on newly formed myotubes at stage 26. Localization of these antigens in three-dimensional collagen gel cultures of limb mesenchyme, explanted prior to innervation of the limb, paralleled the staining patterns seen during limb development in the embryo. These results indicate that basal lamina molecules intrinsic to limb mesenchyme are early markers for myogenic and synaptic differentiation, and suggest that these components play important roles during the initial phases of myogenesis and synaptogenesis.

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