Dystrophin, the protein product of the human Duchenne muscular dystrophy gene, exists in skeletal muscle as a large oligomeric complex that contains four glycoproteins of 156, 50, 43, and 35 kD and a protein of 59 kD. Here, we investigated the relative abundance of each of the components of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex in skeletal muscle from normal and mdx mice, which are missing dystrophin. Immunoblot analysis using total muscle membranes from control and mdx mice of ages 1 d to 30 wk found that all of the dystrophin-associated proteins were greatly reduced (80-90%) in mdx mouse skeletal muscle. The specificity of the loss of the dystrophin-associated glycoproteins was demonstrated by the finding that the major glycoprotein composition of skeletal muscle membranes from normal and mdx mice was identical. Furthermore, skeletal muscle membranes from the dystrophic dy/dy mouse exhibited a normal density of dystrophin and dystrophin-associated proteins. Immunofluorescence microscopy confirmed the results from the immunoblot analysis and showed a drastically reduced density of dystrophin-associated proteins in mdx muscle cryosections compared with normal and dy/dy mouse muscle. Therefore, our results demonstrate that all of the dystrophin-associated proteins are significantly reduced in mdx skeletal muscle and suggest that the loss of dystrophin-associated proteins is due to the absence of dystrophin and not due to secondary effects of muscle fiber degradation.

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