We use a highly specific and sensitive antibody to further characterize the distribution of dystrophin in skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle. No evidence for localization other than at the cell surface is apparent in skeletal muscle and no 427-kD dystrophin labeling was detected in sciatic nerve. An elevated concentration of dystrophin appears at the myotendinous junction and the neuromuscular junction, labeling in the latter being more intense specifically in the troughs of the synaptic folds. In cardiac muscle the distribution of dystrophin is limited to the surface plasma membrane but is notably absent from the membrane that overlays adherens junctions of the intercalated disks. In smooth muscle, the plasma membrane labeling is considerably less abundant than in cardiac or skeletal muscle and is found in areas of membrane underlain by membranous vesicles. As in cardiac muscle, smooth muscle dystrophin seems to be excluded from membrane above densities that mark adherens junctions. Dystrophin appears as a doublet on Western blots of skeletal and cardiac muscle, and as a single band of lower abundance in smooth muscle that corresponds most closely in molecular weight to the upper band of the striated muscle doublet. The lower band of the doublet in striated muscle appears to lack a portion of the carboxyl terminus and may represent a dystrophin isoform. Isoform differences and the presence of dystrophin on different specialized membrane surfaces imply multiple functional roles for the dystrophin protein.

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