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J Cell Biol. 1986 January 1; 102(1): 200–209.
PMCID: PMC2114045

The molecular organization of myosin in stress fibers of cultured cells

Abstract

Antibodies to chicken gizzard myosin, subfragment 1, light chain 20, and light meromyosin were used to visualize myosin in stress fibers of cultured chicken cells. The antibody specificity was tested on purified gizzard proteins and total cell lysates using immunogold silver staining on protein blots. Immunofluorescence on cultured chicken fibroblasts and epithelial cells exhibited a similar staining pattern of antibodies to total myosin, subfragment 1, and light chain 20, whereas the antibodies to light meromyosin showed a substantially different reaction. The electron microscopic distribution of these antibodies was investigated using the indirect and direct immunogold staining method on permeabilized and fixed cells. The indirect approach enabled us to describe the general distribution of myosin in stress fibers. Direct double immunogold labeling, however, provided more detailed information on the orientation of myosin molecules and their localization relative to alpha-actinin: alpha-actinin, identified with antibodies coupled to 10-nm gold, was concentrated in the dense bodies or electron-dense bands of stress fibers, whereas myosin was confined to the intervening electron-lucid regions. Depending on the antibodies used in combination with alpha-actinin, the intervening regions revealed a different staining pattern: antibodies to myosin (reactive with the head portion of nonmuscle myosin) and to light chain 20 (both coupled to 5-nm gold) labeled two opposite bands adjacent to alpha- actinin, and antibodies to light meromyosin (coupled to 5-nm gold) labeled a single central zone. Based on these results, we conclude that myosin in stress fibers is organized into bipolar filaments.

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