Dystrobrevin is a component of the dystrophin-associated protein complex and has been shown to interact directly with dystrophin, alpha1-syntrophin, and the sarcoglycan complex. The precise role of alpha-dystrobrevin in skeletal muscle has not yet been determined. To study alpha-dystrobrevin's function in skeletal muscle, we used the yeast two-hybrid approach to look for interacting proteins. Three overlapping clones were identified that encoded an intermediate filament protein we subsequently named desmuslin (DMN). Sequence analysis revealed that DMN has a short N-terminal domain, a conserved rod domain, and a long C-terminal domain, all common features of type 6 intermediate filament proteins. A positive interaction between DMN and alpha-dystrobrevin was confirmed with an in vitro coimmunoprecipitation assay. By Northern blot analysis, we find that DMN is expressed mainly in heart and skeletal muscle, although there is some expression in brain. Western blotting detected a 160-kDa protein in heart and skeletal muscle. Immunofluorescent microscopy localizes DMN in a stripe-like pattern in longitudinal sections and in a mosaic pattern in cross sections of skeletal muscle. Electron microscopic analysis shows DMN colocalized with desmin at the Z-lines. Subsequent coimmunoprecipitation experiments confirmed an interaction with desmin. Our findings suggest that DMN may serve as a direct linkage between the extracellular matrix and the Z-discs (through plectin) and may play an important role in maintaining muscle cell integrity.
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