Models of the assembly of cytoskeletal and contractile proteins of eukaryotic cells require quantitative information about the rates of synthesis of individual component proteins. We applied the dual isotope technique of Clark and Zak (1981, J. Biol. Chem., 256:4863-4870) to measure the synthesis rates of cytoskeletal and contractile proteins in stationary and growing cultures of IMR-90 fibroblasts. Fibroblast proteins were labeled to equilibrium with [14C]leucine over several days, at the end of which there was a 4-h pulse with [3H]leucine. Fractional synthesis rates (percent per hour) were calculated from the 3H/14C ratio of cell protein extracts or protein purified by one- or two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and the 3H/14C ratio of medium-free leucine. The average fractional synthesis rate for total, SDS- or urea-soluble; Triton-soluble; and cytoskeletal protein extracts in stationary cells each was approximately 4.0%/h. The range of values for the synthesis of individual proteins from total cell extracts or cytoskeletal extracts sliced from one-dimensional gels was similar, though this range was greater than that for major proteins of Triton-soluble protein extracts. Three specific cytoskeletal proteins--actin, vimentin, and tubulin--were synthesized at similar rates that were significantly slower than the average fractional synthesis rate for total protein. Myosin, on the other hand, was synthesized faster than average. Synthesis rates were the same for beta-and gamma-actin and polymerized (cytoskeletal extract) vs. Triton-soluble actin. The same was true for alpha- and beta-tubulin and two different forms of vimentin. Synthesis rates were uniformly higher in growing cells, though the same pattern of differential rates was observed as for stationary cells. Synthesis rates in growing cells were higher than the rate necessary to maintain the growth rate, even for those cytoskeletal proteins being synthesized slowly. Therefore, there appears to be some turnover of these cytoskeletal elements even during growth. We conclude that proteins in cytoskeletal extracts may have nonuniform rates of synthesis, but at least one important subclass of cytoskeletal proteins that comprise filament subunits have the same synthesis rates.
Three monoclonal antibodies (AE1, AE2, and AE3) were prepared against human epidermal keratins and used to study keratin expression during normal epidermal differentiation. Immunofluorescence staining data suggested that the antibodies were specific for keratin-type intermediate filaments. The reactivity of these antibodies to individual human epidermal keratin polypeptides (65-67, 58, 56, and 50 kdaltons) was determined by the immunoblot technique. AE1 reacted with 56 and 50 kdalton keratins, AE2 with 65-67 and 56-kdalton keratins, and AE3 with 65-67 and 58 kdalton keratins. Thus all major epidermal keratins were recognized by at least one of the monoclonal antibodies. Moreover, common antigenic determinants were present in subsets of epidermal keratins. To correlate the expression of specific keratins with different stages of in vivo epidermal differentiation, the antibodies were used for immunohistochemical staining of frozen skin sections. AE1 reacted with epidermal basal cells, AE2 with cells above the basal layer, and AE3 with the entire epidermis. The observation that AE1 and AE2 antibodies (which recognized a common 56 kdalton keratin) stained mutually exclusive parts of the epidermis suggested that certain keratin antigens must be masked in situ. This was shown to be the case by direct analysis of keratins extracted from serial, horizontal skin sections using the immunoblot technique. The results from these immunohistochemical and biochemical approaches suggested that: (a) the 65- to 67-kdalton keratins were present only in cells above the basal layer, (b) the 58-kdalton keratin was detected throughout the entire epidermis including the basal layer, (c) the 56-kdalton keratin was absent in the basal layer and first appeared probably in the upper spinous layer, and (d) the 50-kdalton keratin was the only other major keratin detected in the basal layer and was normally eliminated during s. corneum formation. The 56 and 65-67-kdalton keratins, which are characteristic of epidermal cells undergoing terminal differentiation, may be regarded as molecular markers for keratinization.