, Volume 83, Issue 2, pp 140-148

The fate of dystrophin during the degeneration and regeneration of the soleus muscle of the rat

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Immunocytochemistry and Western blotting were used to monitor the fate of dystrophin in the soleus muscle of the rat during a cycle of degeneration and regeneration induced by inoculation of the muscle with the venom of Notechis scutatus scutatus (the Australian tiger snake). In control muscle dystrophin was localised close to the plasma membrane. Dystrophin began to break down 3–6 h after venom inoculation, giving a characteristic discontinuous labelling pattern. At 12 h dystrophin was absent from the plasma membrane, and by 1 day the architecture of the muscle fibres had completely broken down. By 2 days post inoculation regeneration had commenced. The regenerating myofibres possessed well-organised myofibrils and the plasma membrane was intact. Dystrophin was detected by Western blot at 3 days, but was not seen in sections until regeneration of the muscle was well advanced, at 4 days post inoculation. The results suggested that although dystrophin was present in the myofibres at 3 days, it was not incorporated into the plasma membrane until 4 days post inoculation. This may be due to the influence of the functional reinnervation of the regenerating fibres, which occurs at 4–5 days, or to the growing fibres reaching a critical diameter.

Supported by the Muscular Dystrophy Group of Great Britain, the Wellcome Trust, and the MRC