mAbs specific for titin or nebulin were characterized by immunoblotting and fluorescence microscopy. Immunoelectron microscopy on relaxed chicken breast muscle revealed unique transverse striping patterns. Each of the 10 distinct titin antibodies provided a pair of delicate decoration lines per sarcomere. The position of these pairs was centrally symmetric to the M line and was antibody dependent. The results provided a linear epitope map, which starts at the Z line (antibody T20), covers five distinct positions along the I band (T21, T12, T4, T1, T11), the A-I junction (T3), and three distinct positions within the A band (T10, T22, T23). The epitope of T23 locates 0.2 micron before the M line. In immunoblots, the two antibodies decorating at or just before the Z line (T20, T21) specifically recognized the insoluble titin TI component but did not recognize TII, a proteolytic derivative. All other titin antibodies recognized TI and TII. Thus titin molecules appear as polar structures lacking over large regions repetitive epitopes. One physical end seems related to Z line anchorage, while the other may bind close to the M line. Titin epitopes influenced by the contractional state of the sarcomere locate between the N1 line and the A-I junction (T4, T1, T11). We discuss the results in relation to titin molecules having half-sarcomere lengths. The three nebulin antibodies so far characterized again give rise to distinct pairs of stripes. These locate close to the N2 line.

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