The carboxy-terminal region of dystrophin has been suggested to be crucially important for its function to prevent muscle degeneration. We have previously shown that this region is the locus that interacts with the sarcolemmal glycoprotein complex, which mediates membrane anchoring of dystrophin, as well as with the cytoplasmic peripheral membrane protein, A0 and beta 1-syntrophin (Suzuki, A., M. Yoshida, K. Hayashi, Y. Mizuno, Y. Hagiwara, and E. Ozawa. 1994. Eur. J. Biochem. 220:283-292). In this work, by using the overlay assay technique developed previously, we further analyzed the dystrophin-syntrophin/A0 interaction. Two forms of mammalian syntrophin, alpha 1- and beta 1-syntrophin, were found to bind to very close but discrete regions on the dystrophin molecule. Their binding sites are located at the vicinity of the glycoprotein-binding site, and correspond to the amino acid residues encoded by exons 73-74 which are alternatively spliced out in some isoforms. This suggests that the function of syntrophin is tightly linked to the functional diversity among dystrophin isoforms. Pathologically, it is important that the binding site for alpha 1-syntrophin, which is predominantly expressed in skeletal muscle, coincides with the region whose deletion was suggested to result in a severe phenotype. In addition, A0, a minor component of dystrophin-associated proteins with a molecular mass of 94 kD which is immunochemically related to syntrophin, binds to the same site as beta 1-syntrophin. Finally, based on our accumulated evidence, we propose a revised model of the domain organization of dystrophin from the view point of protein-protein interactions.

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