The biosynthesis and localization of fibronectin during chick muscle differentiation are described. This study employed two monoclonal antibodies, one that selectively killed mononucleated cells and one specific for avian fibronectin. These antibodies allowed precise analyses of fibronectin expression in well-defined cultures of myoblasts or myotubes and avoided the complications of exogenous fibronectin and contamination by fibroblasts or unfused myoblasts. Fibronectin synthesis, as a fraction of total protein synthesis, remains constant at 0.3-0.4% before and after myoblast fusion, suggesting that the absolute rate of fibronectin synthesis may increase somewhat when myotubes synthesize and accumulate myofibrillar proteins. The pattern of fibronectin arrangement does change during myogenesis. In myotube cultures, the appearance of pulse-labeled fibronectin at the cell surface and its secretion into the medium begin after a 2-3-h lag period, in contrast to the 30-min lag period observed in fibroblast cultures. This lag between polypeptide biosynthesis and the exteriorization of the new protein is thus a characteristic of each cell type rather than the protein. All of the major secretory proteins of myogenic cells, including fibronectin and collagenous components, share this 2-3-h intracellular transit time.

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