In using a monoclonal antibody against a major cytoplasmic protein of 46,000 mol wt, we have characterized an intermediate-sized (10 nm) filamentous cytoskeleton in Drosophila melanogaster tissue culture cells. Indirect immunofluorescence, immunoelectron microscopy, and protein blotting show that this cytoskeleton exhibits features typical of the vertebrate vimentin cytoskeleton, including the diameter and appearance of filaments, sensitivity to 10(-6) M colcemid, and insolubility in buffers containing 1% Triton X-100. The antibody cross-reacts with vimentin and desmin from baby hamster kidney cells and stains a vimentin cytoskeleton in the vertebrate Chinese hamster ovary cell line. We, therefore, conclude that the 46,000-mol wt Drosophila protein is homologous to vertebrate vimentin. Three minor, higher-molecular-weight polypeptides are also detected in the Drosophila cells that react with the antibody. At least two of these are members of a family of proteins with properties resembling those of the 46,000-mol wt intermediate filament protein.

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