In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the body wall muscles exert their force on the cuticle to generate locomotion. Interposed between the muscle cells and the cuticle are a basement membrane and a thin hypodermal cell. The latter contains bundles of filaments attached to dense plaques in the hypodermal cell membranes, which together we have called a fibrous organelle. In an effort to define the chain of molecules that anchor the muscle cells to the cuticle we have isolated five mAbs using preparations enriched in these components. Two antibodies define a 200-kD muscle antigen likely to be part of the basement membrane at the muscle/hypodermal interface. Three other antibodies probably identify elements of the fibrous organelles in the adjacent hypodermis. The mAb IFA, which reacts with mammalian intermediate filaments, also recognizes these structures. We suggest that the components recognized by these antibodies are likely to be involved in the transmission of tension from the muscle cell to the cuticle.

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