Monoclonal antibodies ( McAbs ) have been generated against a preparation of intermediate filament proteins (IFP) from adult chicken gizzard. Two antibodies, D3 and D76 , have been characterized in detail. They bind specifically to desmin but recognize different epitopes. In the adult chicken, both McAbs produced equivalent immunofluorescent staining patterns, reacting in frozen sections with all forms of muscle tissue, including vascular smooth muscle, but with no other tissue types. In isolated skeletal myofibrils and in longitudinal frozen sections of cardiac and skeletal muscle, desmin was detected with both McAbs at the Z-band and in longitudinally-oriented filament bundles between myofibrils. In contrast to these results in the adult, the intermediate filaments (IF) of embryonic cardiac myocytes in primary cultures were decorated only with McAb D3, whereas McAb D76 was completely unreactive with these cells. Similarly, frozen sections through the heart at early stages of embryonic chick development (Hamburger-Hamilton stages 17-18) revealed regions of myocytes, identified by double immunofluorescence with myosin-specific McAbs , that were unstained with McAb D76 even though similar regions were stained by McAb D3. That McAb D76 reacted with desmin in all adult cardiac myocytes but not with all embryonic heart cells indicates that embryonic and adult cardiac IF are immunologically distinct and implies a conversion in IF immunoreactivity during cardiac development.

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