, Volume 449, Issue 2, pp 175-191
Date: 20 May 2006

The cardiac isoform of α-actin in regenerating and atrophic skeletal muscle, myopathies and rhabdomyomatous tumors: an immunohistochemical study using monoclonal antibodies

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The two sarcomeric isoforms of actins, cardiac and skeletal muscle α-actin, are highly homologous so that their immunohistochemical distinction is extremely difficult. Taking advantage of monoclonal antibodies distinguishing the two conservative amino acid exchanges near the aminoterminus, we have performed an extended immunohistochemical analysis of the cardiac α-actin (CAA) isoform in normal, regenerating, diseased and neoplastic human muscle tissues. Intense and uniform CAA staining is seen in fetal and adult myocardium and in fetal skeletal muscle while adult skeletal muscle is essentially negative, except for muscle spindle myocytes and a few scattered muscle fibres with overall reduced diameter. By contrast, CAA synthesis is markedly induced in regenerating skeletal muscle cells, in Duchenne muscular dystrophy and upon degenerative atrophy. CAA has also been detected in certain vascular and visceral smooth muscle cells. Among tumors, CAA has consistently been seen in rhabdomyosarcomas and rhabdomyomatous cells of nephroblastomas, whereas, smooth muscle tumors have shown only occasional staining. While the synthesis of this actin isoform is less restricted than previously thought, monoclonal antibodies against CAA provide a well-defined, reliable and sensitive diagnostic tool for the definition and detection of aberrant differentiation in diseased skeletal muscle and of striated muscle differentiation in rhabdomyosarcomas.