The absence of dystrophin complex leads to disorganization of the force-transmitting costameric cytoskeleton and disruption of sarcolemmal membrane integrity in skeletal muscle. However, it has not been determined whether the dystrophin complex can form a mechanically strong bond with any costameric protein. We performed confocal immunofluorescence analysis of isolated sarcolemma that were mechanically peeled from skeletal fibers of mouse hindlimb muscle. A population of γ-actin filaments was stably associated with sarcolemma isolated from normal muscle and displayed a costameric pattern that precisely overlapped with dystrophin. However, costameric actin was absent from all sarcolemma isolated from dystrophin-deficient mdx mouse muscle even though it was localized to costameres in situ. Vinculin, α-actinin, β-dystroglycan and utrophin were all retained on mdx sarcolemma, indicating that the loss of costameric actin was not due to generalized membrane instability. Our data demonstrate that the dystrophin complex forms a mechanically strong link between the sarcolemma and the costameric cytoskeleton through interaction with γ-actin filaments. Destabilization of costameric actin filaments may also be an important precursor to the costamere disarray observed in dystrophin-deficient muscle. Finally, these methods will be broadly useful in assessing the mechanical integrity of the membrane cytoskeleton in dystrophic animal models lacking other costameric proteins.
- Membrane skeleton
- Muscular dystrophy