The expression of two intermediate filament-associated proteins, paranemin (280,000 mol wt) and synemin (230,000 mol wt), was investigated with respect to the expression of two core intermediate filament proteins, desmin and vimentin, in various embryonic and adult chicken muscle and nonmuscle cells. All developing muscle cells, regardless of their type, simultaneously express desmin, vimentin, paranemin, and synemin. However, a difference is observed in the expression of paranemin in adult muscle. This protein is removed during differentiation of both fast and slow skeletal muscle, visceral smooth muscle, and the smooth muscle of muscular arteries, but remains in mature myocardial cells, cardiac conducting fibers, and the smooth muscle cells of elastic arteries. Some of these cells express vimentin, others desmin, and still others a mixture of the two. On the other hand, synemin is expressed in all the above types of adult muscle cells except myocardial cells. Adult myocardial cells also lack vimentin, and its presence is gradually reduced after hatching. Since in adult striated muscle all expressed intermediate filament proteins are found predominantly in association with the peripheries of myofibrillar Z discs, these results suggest that a change in the composition of skeletal and cardiac muscle Z discs occurs during chicken development and maturation. Erythrocytes that express synemin and vimentin do not express paranemin, while both embryonic and adult Schwann cells co-express paranemin and vimentin, but not synemin. Endothelial cells of muscular vessels express paranemin, while those of elastic vessels do not, and neither contains synemin. Paranemin and synemin are not expressed in neurons, epithelial, and most glial cells, suggesting that these two polypeptides are expressed only in conjunction with desmin or vimentin. These results suggest that the composition of intermediate filaments changes during chicken development, not only with respect to their core subunit proteins but also with respect to two associated polypeptides, particularly in muscle cells.

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