I have examined the possible involvement of specific cytoskeletal and peripheral membrane proteins in the early stages of acetylcholine receptor (AChR) aggregation in rat myotubes in culture by immunofluorescence localization of these proteins on the cytoplasmic face of isolated plasma membranes. A culture procedure utilizing selective replating of myoblasts and subsequent treatment with cytosine arabinoside was devised to obtain large, multipolar myotubes with extensive upper surfaces that are free of fibroblasts. These cultures were exposed for 4–6 h to embryonic pig brain extract (EBX) to induce AChR aggregate formation on the upper cell surface, and the AChRs were labeled with TRITC-conjugated alpha-bungarotoxin. Large sheets of plasma membranes from the upper cell surface were isolated by adhesion to a coverslip coated with a polypeptide adhesive (Cell-Tak) that was pressed on top of the culture. The membranes were labeled by indirect immunofluorescence with monoclonal antibodies against the 43 × 10(3) Mr and 58 × 10(3) Mr proteins, originally identified in the AChR-enriched membranes of Torpedo electroplaques, and with monoclonal antibodies against isoforms of actin and beta-spectrin. The labeling patterns showed that all four of these proteins are concentrated in the punctate AChR-enriched domains within the aggregates, suggesting that they may be involved in the early stages of AChR aggregation. Immunofluorescence labeling with monoclonal antibodies against vinculin and clathrin, and with an antiserum to talin, showed that these proteins are also associated with AChR aggregates; however, their labeling patterns did not correspond closely to the AChR-enriched domains. Furthermore, vinculin and talin dissociated from most of the membrane during isolation. The concentration of beta-spectrin and actin isoforms on the cytoplasmic fact of the AChR-enriched domains is consistent with the formation, early in the aggregation process, of a membrane-cytoskeleton association similar to that of erythrocytes.

This content is only available via PDF.