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J Cell Biol. 1997 Jul 14;138(1):81-93.

Differential association of syntrophin pairs with the dystrophin complex.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7545, USA.


The syntrophins are a multigene family of intracellular dystrophin-associated proteins comprising three isoforms, alpha1, beta1, and beta2. Based on their domain organization and association with neuronal nitric oxide synthase, syntrophins are thought to function as modular adapters that recruit signaling proteins to the membrane via association with the dystrophin complex. Using sequences derived from a new mouse beta1-syntrophin cDNA, and previously isolated cDNAs for alpha1- and beta2-syntrophins, we prepared isoform-specific antibodies to study the expression, skeletal muscle localization, and dystrophin family association of all three syntrophins. Most tissues express multiple syntrophin isoforms. In mouse gastrocnemius skeletal muscle, alpha1- and beta1-syntrophin are concentrated at the neuromuscular junction but are also present on the extrasynaptic sarcolemma. beta1-syntrophin is restricted to fast-twitch muscle fibers, the first fibers to degenerate in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. beta2-syntrophin is largely restricted to the neuromuscular junction. The sarcolemmal distribution of alpha1- and beta1-syntrophins suggests association with dystrophin and dystrobrevin, whereas all three syntrophins could potentially associate with utrophin at the neuromuscular junction. Utrophin complexes immunoisolated from skeletal muscle are highly enriched in beta1- and beta2-syntrophins, while dystrophin complexes contain mostly alpha1- and beta1-syntrophins. Dystrobrevin complexes contain dystrophin and alpha1- and beta1-syntrophins. From these results, we propose a model in which a dystrophin-dystrobrevin complex is associated with two syntrophins. Since individual syntrophins do not have intrinsic binding specificity for dystrophin, dystrobrevin, or utrophin, the observed preferential pairing of syntrophins must depend on extrinsic regulatory mechanisms.

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