A unique high molecular weight protein (240,000 mol wt) has been purified from isolated desmosomes of bovine muzzle epidermis, using low-salt extraction at pH 9.5-10.5 and gel-filtration followed by calmodulin-affinity column chromatography. This protein was shown to bind to calmodulin in a Ca2+-dependent manner, so we called it desmocalmin here. Desmocalmin also bound to the reconstituted keratin filaments in vitro in the presence of Mg2+, but not to actin filaments. By use of the antibody raised against the purified desmocalmin, desmocalmin was shown by both immunoelectron and immunofluorescence microscopy to be localized at the desmosomal plaque just beneath the plasma membrane. Judging from its isoelectric point and antigenicity, desmocalmin was clearly distinct from desmoplakins I and II, which were identified in the desmosomal plaque by Mueller and Franke (1983, J. Mol. Biol., 163:647-671). In the low-angle, rotary-shadowing electron microscope, the desmocalmin molecules looked like flexible rods approximately 100-nm long consisting of two polypeptide chains lying side by side. The similar rodlike structures were clearly identified in the freeze-etch replica images of desmosomes. Taken together, these findings indicate that desmocalmin could function as a key protein responsible for the formation of desmosomes in a calmodulin-dependent manner (Trinkaus-Randall, V., and I.K. Gipson, 1984, J. Cell Biol., 98:1565-1571).

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