In chicken, three structurally distinct nuclear lamin proteins have been described. According to their migration on two-dimensional gels, these proteins have been designated as lamins A, B1, and B2. To investigate the functional relationship between chicken lamins and their mammalian counterparts, we have examined here the state of individual chicken lamin proteins during mitosis. Current models proposing functional specializations of mammalian lamin subtypes are in fact largely based on the observation that during mitosis mammalian lamin B remains associated with membrane vesicles, whereas lamins A and C become freely soluble. Cell fractionation experiments combined with immunoblotting show that during mitosis both chicken lamins B1 and B2 remain associated with membranes, whereas lamin A exists in a soluble form. In situ immunoelectron microscopy carried out on mitotic cells also reveals membrane association of lamin B2, whereas the distribution of lamin A is random. From these results we conclude that both chicken lamins B1 and B2 may functionally resemble mammalian lamin B. Interestingly, immunolabeling of mitotic cells revealed an association of lamin B2 with extended membrane cisternae that resembled elements of the endoplasmic reticulum. Quantitatively, we found that all large endoplasmic reticulum-like membranes present in metaphase cells were decorated with lamin B2-specific antibodies. Given that labeling of these mitotic membranes was lower than labeling of interphase nuclear envelopes, it appears likely that during mitotic disassembly and reassembly of the nuclear envelope lamin B2 may reversibly distribute between the inner nuclear membrane and the endoplasmic reticulum.

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