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Cell. 1982 Aug;30(1):277-86.

Proteinchemical characterization of three structurally distinct domains along the protofilament unit of desmin 10 nm filaments.


Limited chymotryptic cleavage of soluble chicken gizzard desmin protofilaments allows the characterization of three structurally distinct domains. A surface-exposed very basic amino-terminal region (the headpiece) with an amino acid sequence excluding alpha-helical organization (7.5 kd) is separated from the perhaps globular carboxy-terminal 48 residues (the tailpiece) by a distinctly different middle domain of approximately 330 residues. This 38 kd domain is very rich in alpha-helix (at least 83%), and electron microscopy reveals a thin rod with a length of 500 +/- 50 A. Amino acid sequence data also show that the rod domain is interrupted by a nonhelical portion. An alpha-helical array is able to form a coiled-coil spanning the carboxy-terminal half of the 38 kd domain. The alpha-type diffraction pattern of 10 nm filaments arises from a coiled-coil conformation displayed through most but not all of the middle domain of the protofilaments.

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