Using a mAb, referred to as 08L, we have identified a protein, of M(r) approximately 140,000, associated with desmosomes of epithelial cells. The 08L antibody stained the intracellular side of lateral cell margins of monolayer epithelial cells but did not stain cell margins free of cell contact. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed that the 08L antigen was localized to the cytosolic surface of the desmosomal plaque near points of intermediate filament convergence with apparently little staining of the desmosomal plaque proper. Western blots revealed the 08L antigen to be a protein, of M(r) approximately 140,000, found in the Triton-X 100 insoluble pellet. High salt-containing buffers extracted the 08L antigen from the insoluble material. Examination of the assembly of 08L to the desmosome complex, in cells grown in low confluent culture or in calcium-switch assays, by double immunofluorescence with 08L and anti-desmoplakin antibody, revealed that 08L was recruited to morphologically identifiable desmosomes. 08L antigen may exist in a cytosolic pool prior to assembly to the cell surface. The solubility of 08L in low calcium and normal calcium conditions, however, was similar. 08L association to the desmosome was correlated with increased organization of the intermediate filament network. We suggest that the 08L antigen may be involved in the organization and stabilization of the desmosome-IF complexes of epithelia.

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