A confocal laser microscope was used to analyze the localization pattern of dystrophin along the sarcolemma in guinea pig skeletal muscle fibers. Hind leg muscles of the normal animals were freshly dissected and frozen for cryostat sections, which were then stained with a monoclonal antidystrophin antibody. In confocal laser microscopy, immunofluorescence staining in relatively thick sections could be sharply imaged in thin optical sections. When longitudinal and transverse sections of muscle fibers were examined, the immunostaining of dystrophin was seen as linearly aligned fluorescent dots or intermittent lines along the sarcolemma. In longitudinally cut muscle fibers, many fluorescent dots, but not all, corresponded to the sarcomere pattern, especially the I band. Sections cut tangential to the sarcolemma also showed a lattice-like pattern of longitudinal and transverse striations of fluorescent dots. Double staining for dystrophin and vinculin showed that the two proteins were not exactly colocalized. The end portions of muscle fibers were much more intensely stained with antidystrophin antibody than the central portions, following the contour of elaborate surface specializations at the myo-tendon junction. The staining pattern at the myo-tendon junction was also discontinuous. These confocal microscopic observations suggest that dystrophin may be localized in a nonuniform, discontinuous pattern along the sarcolemma and in some relationship with the underlying myofibrils.

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