Antibodies raised against chicken gizzard smooth muscle desmin were shown to be specific by immunofluorescence cytochemistry and immunoautoradiography after two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Embryonic chick heart cell cultures (permeabilized with Triton X-100) and enucleated adult chicken erythrocyte ghosts (Granger, B. L., E. A. Rapasky, and E. Lazarides, 1982, J. Cell Biol. 92:299-312) were then used for immunoelectronmicroscopic localization of desmin. As expected, all intermediate filaments (IF) of the cardiac myocytes were labeled heavily and uniformly with the desmin antibodies. No periodicity or helicity was detectable along the labeled IF. Of interest was the intermittent but clear labeling of the IF of the nonmuscle, fibroblastic cells in the identical cultures. These antibodies did not bind vimentin from embryonic chick heart homogenates; furthermore, they did not label IF of avian erythrocytes known to contain vimentin but not desmin. We conclude that IF of cardiac fibroblastic cells contain low, but significant, concentrations of desmin and that this protein probably forms a copolymer with vimentin in these cells.

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