Skelemin, a cytoskeletal M-disc periphery protein, contains motifs of adhesion/recognition and intermediate filament proteins.
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In striated muscle, myofibrils are anchored to an interconnecting cytoskeleton of desmin intermediate filaments. Skelemin (195 kDa) may be a link between myofibrils and the intermediate filament cytoskeleton. Skelemin partitions with desmin to the insoluble cytoskeleton, and increases the thickness of reconstituted intermediate filaments. Concentrated at the M-disc periphery, skelemin may also contact myosin filaments. We used immunoscreening to isolate a mouse muscle cDNA which encodes a protein with a calculated molecular mass of 185 kDa. Anti-skelemin antibodies bound to the protein products of each of three nonoverlapping regions of the open reading frame. Antibodies directed against the protein products of each one-third of the cDNA react with a 195-kDa muscle protein and stain the M-disc indistinguishably from the original anti-skelemin antibodies, suggesting that the cDNA encodes skelemin. A single skelemin mRNA is detected in muscle but not non-muscle tissues, consistent with immunostaining results. Skelemin is a member of a family of myosin-associated proteins containing fibronectin type III and immunoglobulin superfamily C2 motifs. Skelemin is unique in this family in having intermediate filament core-like motifs, one near each terminus. We hypothesize that skelemin could interact with myosin or myosin-associated proteins through its fibronectin and/or immunoglobulin motifs, and with intermediate filaments through intermediate filament-like motifs.