The surface distribution of the alpha 2/delta subunit of the 1,4-dihydropyridine receptor and its topographical relationship with the neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) were investigated during early myogenesis in vitro, by double immunocytochemical labeling with the monoclonal antibody 3007 and an anti-N-CAM polyclonal antiserum. The monoclonal antibody 3007 has been previously shown to immunoprecipitate dihydropyridine receptor from skeletal muscle T-tubules. In further immunoprecipitation experiments on such preparations and muscle cell cultures, it was demonstrated here that the monoclonal antibody 3007 exclusively recognizes the alpha 2/delta subunit of the 1,4-dihydropyridine receptor. In rabbit muscle cell cultures, the labeling for both alpha 2/delta and N-CAM was first detected on myoblasts, in the form of spots on the membrane and perinuclear patches. Spots of various sizes organized in aggregates were then found on the membrane of myotubes. At fusion (T0), aggregates of N-CAM spots alone were found at the junction between fusing cells. At T6 and later stages, all alpha 2/delta aggregates present on myotubes co-localized with N-CAM, while less than 3% of N-CAM aggregates did not co-localize with alpha 2/delta. A uniform N-CAM staining also made its appearance. At T12, when myotubes showed prominent contractility, alpha 2/delta-N-CAM aggregates diminished in size. Dispersed alpha 2/delta spots of a small regular size spread over the whole surface of the myotubes and alignments of these spots became visible. Corresponding N-CAM spots were now occasionally seen, and uniform N-CAM staining was prominent. These results show that alpha 2/delta and N-CAM are co-localized and that their distributions undergo concomitant changes during early myogenesis until the T-tubule network starts to be organized. This suggest that these two proteins might jointly participate in morphogenetic events preceding the formation of T-tubules.

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