We have investigated the contribution of an individual nucleus to intracellular and surface membranes in multinucleated muscle fibers. Using a retroviral vector, we introduced the gene encoding the human T-lymphocyte antigen CD8 into C2 mouse muscle cells to form a stable line expressing the human protein on its surface. The intracellular and surface distributions of the protein were then investigated by immunocytochemistry in hybrid myotubes containing a single nucleus expressing CD8. We show that the intracellular distribution of CD8 is limited to a local area surrounding the nucleus encoding it and several neighboring nuclei. On the cell surface, however, the protein is distributed over the entire myotube. Widespread distribution of a surface membrane protein in multinucleated myotubes can thus result from localized synthesis and processing.

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