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Dev Biol. 1983 May;97(1):123-36.

Activity-dependent accumulation of basal lamina by cultured rat myotubes.


Myoblasts from 20-day rat embryos fuse and differentiate in culture to form spontaneously active myotubes. The myotubes acquire an extracellular matrix that includes a patchy basal lamina (BL) and a layer of fibrils that runs among and above the cells. Several antibodies that bind to muscle fiber basement membrane in vivo were used to study the organization of the extracellular matrix and the effect of muscle activity on the accumulation of its components. Light and electron microscopic immunohistochemical methods showed that the composition and organization of myotube BL in vitro resemble those seen in vivo. Antibodies that bind to both synaptic and extrasynaptic muscle fiber BL, in vivo stain the entire myotube BL in vitro, while antisera that bind preferentially to synaptic BL in vivo stain small patches of myotube BL, which are usually associated with regions rich in acetylcholine receptors. The effects of activity on accumulation of BL were studied by comparing control myotubes to myotubes paralyzed with tetrodotoxin or lidocaine. Immunohistochemical and 125I-antibody binding experiments with three antisera that stain the entire BL showed that paralyzed myotubes accumulate less BL than active myotubes. The effects of activity and inactivity are reversible: new BL forms if toxin is removed from cultures and BL is lost if active myotubes are paralyzed. Thus, accumulation of BL by myotubes is dependent, at least in part, on activity. In contrast, the number of patches stained by synapse-specific BL antibodies is increased in inactive cultures. Thus, immunologically distinguishable components of BL are differentially affected by activity.

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