The 58K protein is a peripheral membrane protein enriched in the acetylcholine receptor (AChR)-rich postsynaptic membrane of Torpedo electric organ. Because of its coexistence with AChRs in the postsynaptic membrane in both electrocytes and skeletal muscle, it is thought to be involved in the formation and maintenance of AChR clusters. Using an mAb against the 58K protein of Torpedo electric organ, we have identified a single protein band in SDS-PAGE analysis of Xenopus myotomal muscle with an apparent molecular mass of 48 kD. With this antibody, the distribution of this protein was examined in the myotomal muscle fibers with immunofluorescence techniques. We found that the 48K protein is concentrated at the myotendinous junctions (MTJs) of these muscle fibers. The MTJ is also enriched in talin and vinculin. By double labeling muscle fibers with antibodies against talin and the 48K protein, these two proteins were found to colocalize at the membrane invaginations of the MTJ. In cultured myotomal muscle cells, the 48K protein and talin are also colocalized at sites of membrane-myofibril interaction. The 48K protein is, however, not found at focal adhesion sites in nonmuscle cells, which are enriched in talin. These data suggest that the 48K protein is specifically involved in the interaction of myofibrillar actin filaments with the plasma membrane at the MTJ. In addition to the MTJ localization, 48K protein is also present at AChR clusters both in vivo and in vitro. Thus, this protein is shared by both the MTJ and the neuromuscular junction.

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