The M line, which transverses the center of the thick filament region of skeletal muscle sarcomeres, appears to be a complex array of multiple structural elements. To date, two proteins have definitely been shown to be associated with the M line. They are MM-CK, localized in the M 4,4' substriations, and a 165,000-dalton (164 kd) protein, referred to as both M-protein and myomesin. Here we report the positive identification of a third M-line protein of 185 kd. In the course of making monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against a 165-kd fraction, we also obtained mAbs that bound to the M line of isolated myofibrils as detected by indirect immunofluorescence, but recognized a protein band of 185 kd in immunoblotting experiments with either the original immunogen or low ionic strength myofibril extracts as antigenic targets. The evidence that the 185- and 165-kd proteins are distinct protein species is based on the separation of the two proteins into discrete peaks by ion exchange chromatography, the distinctive patterns of their degradation products, and non-cross-reactivity of any of seven mAbs. These mAbs recognize three unique antigenic determinants on the 185-kd molecule and at least two and probably four sites on the 165-kd molecule as determined from competitive binding and immunofluorescence experiments. To resolve the problem of multiple nomenclature for the 165-kd protein, the 185-kd protein will be referred to as myomesin and the 165-kd protein as M-protein.

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