Expression of sarcomeric proteins and assembly of myofibrils in the putative myofibroblast cell line BHK-21/C13

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The expression and organization patterns of several myofibrillar proteins were analysed in the putative myofibroblast cell line BHK-21/C13. Although this cell line originates from renal tissue, the majority of the cells express titin. In these cells, titin is, under standard culture conditions, detected in myofibril-like structures (MLSs), where it alternates with non-muscle myosin (NMM). Expression of sarcomeric myosin heavy chain (sMyHC) is observed in a small minority of cells, while other sarcomeric proteins, such as nebulin, myosin binding protein C (MyBP-C), myomesin and M-protein are not expressed at all. By changing the culture conditions in a way equal to conditions that induce differentiation of skeletal muscle cells, a process reminiscent of sarcomerogenesis in vitro is induced. Within one day after the switch to a low-nutrition medium, myofibrillar proteins can be detected in a subset of cells, and after two to five days, all myofibrillar proteins examined are organized in typical sarcomeric patterns. Frequently, cross-striations are visible with phase contrast optics. Transfection of these cells with truncated myomesin fragments showed that a specific part of the myomesin molecule, known to contain a titin-binding site, binds to MLSs, whereas other parts do not. These results demonstrate that this cell line could serve as a powerful model to study the assembly of myofibrils. At the same time, its transfectability offers an invaluable tool for in vivo studies concerning binding properties of sarcomeric proteins.

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