The postsynaptic membrane from Torpedo electric organ contains, in addition to the acetylcholine receptor (AChR), a major peripheral membrane protein of approximately 43,000 mol wt (43K protein). Previous studies have shown that this protein is closely associated with AChR and may be involved in anchoring receptors to the postsynaptic membrane. In this study, binding sites for monoclonal antibodies (mabs) to the 43K protein have been compared to the distribution of AChR in Xenopus laevis muscle cells in culture. In double label immunofluorescence experiments, clusters of AChR that occur spontaneously on these cells were stained with anti-43K mabs. Newly formed receptor clusters induced with positive polypeptide-coated latex beads were also stained with anti-43K mabs as early as 12 h after the application of the beads. Exact correspondence in the distribution of the anti-43K protein binding sites and the AChR was found in both types of clusters. These results suggest that the 43K protein becomes associated with AChR clusters during a period of active postsynaptic membrane differentiation. Thus, this protein may participate in the clustering process.

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