Ankyrins are a multi-gene family of peripheral proteins that link ion channels and cell adhesion molecules to the spectrin-based skeleton in specialized membrane domains. In the mammalian skeletal myofiber, ankyrins were immunolocalized in several membrane domains, namely the costameres, the postsynaptic membrane and the triads. Ank1 and Ank3 transcripts were previously detected in skeletal muscle by northern blot analysis. However, the ankyrin isoforms associated with these domains were not identified, with the exception of an unconventional Ank1 gene product that was recently localized at discrete sites of the sarcoplasmic reticulum. Here we study the expression and subcellular distribution of the Ank3 gene products, the ankyrinsG, in the rat skeletal muscle fiber. Northern blot analysis of rat skeletal muscle mRNAs using domain-specific Ank3 cDNA probes revealed two transcripts of 8.0 kb and 5.6 kb containing the spectrin-binding and C-terminal, but not the serine-rich, domains. Reverse transcriptase PCR analysis of rat skeletal muscle total RNA confirmed the presence of Ank3 transcripts that lacked the serine-rich and tail domains, a major insert of 7813 bp at the junction of the spectrin-binding and C-terminal domains that was previously identified in brain Ank3 transcripts. Immunoblot analysis of total skeletal muscle homogenates using ankyrinG-specific antibodies revealed one major 100 kDa ankyrinG polypeptide. Immunofluorescence labeling of rat diaphragm cryosections showed that ankyrin(s)G are selectively associated with (1) the depths of the postsynaptic membrane folds, where the voltage-dependent sodium channel and N-CAM accumulate, and (2) the sarcoplasmic reticulum, as confirmed by codistribution with the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA 1). At variance with ankyrin(s)G, ankyrin(s)R (ank1 gene products) accumulate at the sarcolemma and at sarcoplasmic structures, in register with A-bands. Both ankyrin isoforms codistributed over Z-lines and at the postsynaptic membrane. These data extend the notion that ankyrins are differentially localized within myofibers, and point to a role of the ankyrinG family in the organization of the sarcoplasmic reticulum and the postsynaptic membrane.

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