, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 240-246

Spatial distribution of β-spectrin in normal and dystrophic human skeletal muscle

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Abstract

Spectrin, a major component of the erythrocyte membrane skeleton, has previously been shown to form a two-dimensional lattice in erythrocytes, and in avian or chicken skeletal muscle. Those results were mainly obtained with antibodies against α-spectrin. Using immunofluorescence of semithin cryosections and single muscle fiber preparations, we show here that β-spectrin forms a costameric network which covers the plasma membrane of human skeletal muscle. These spectrin costameres are correlated with the Z-bands. They are longitudinally connected by fine strands and interrupted by myonuclear lacunae. Under mechanical stretching, the costameres retained their correlation to the Z-bands in normal and dystrophin-deficient muscle, up to the point at which the sarcolemma was disrupted. In stretched muscle, in some regions of the stretched fibers in which the costameres seemed to form double strands, the usually 1:1 correlation of spectrin to the Z-bands changed to a 2:1 relation. In dystrophin-deficient muscle, the costameric scaffold of spectrin in the well-preserved fibers appeared normal, indicating that spectrin can be correctly localized in the absence of dystrophin and that the subcellular spectrin organization does not primarily depend on dystrophin expression. The regular organization and the correlation of spectrin costameres to the Z-bands was notable even in stretched Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) muscle. On the other hand, single teased muscle fibers of DMD muscle showed various degrees of morphological alterations of the costameric network, ranging from a focal disarray to complete loss of costameric organization. Because these findings indicate that the costameric spectrin scaffold undergoes secondary changes during the course of the dystrophic process in dystrophin-deficient muscle, spectrin staining of isolated muscle fibers may also serve as a tool to monitor the effect of gene therapy experiments at the single fiber level.

Received: 13 March 1996 / Revised, accepted: 27 January 1997