Murine monoclonal antibodies specific for titin have been elicited using a chicken heart muscle residue as antigen. The three antibodies T1, T3, and T4 recognize both bands of the titin doublet in immunoblot analysis on polypeptides from chicken breast muscle. In contrast, on chicken cardiac myofibrils two of the antibodies (T1, T4) react only with the upper band of the doublet indicating immunological differences between heart and skeletal muscle titin. This difference is even more pronounced for rat and mouse. Although all three antibodies react with skeletal muscle titin, T1 and T4 did not detect heart titin, whereas T3 reacts with this titin both in immunofluorescence microscopy and in immunoblots. Immunofluorescence microscopy of myofibrils and frozen tissues from a variety of vertebrates extends these results and shows that the three antibodies recognize different epitopes. All three titin antibodies decorate at the A-I junction of the myofibrils freshly prepared from chicken skeletal muscle and immunoelectron microscopy using native myosin filaments demonstrates that titin is present at the ends of the thick filaments. In chicken heart, however, antibodies T1 and T4 stain within the I-band rather than at the A-I junction. The three antibodies did not react with any of the nonmuscle tissues or permanent cell lines tested and do not decorate smooth muscle. In primary cultures of embryonic chicken skeletal muscle cells titin first appears as longitudinal striations in mononucleated myoblasts and later at the myofibrillar A-I junction of the myotubes.

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