In order to investigate the mode of existence of the sarcoglycan complex, neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), beta-dystroglycan, and dystrophin in the normal skeletal myofiber, we examined the ultrastructural localization and mutual spatial relationship of nNOS, beta-dystroglycan, dystrophin, and the individual components of the sarcoglycan complex by using triple immunogold labeling electron microscopy. Each molecule of alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-sarcoglycans is located intracellularly or extracellularly near the muscle plasma membrane mostly in accordance with the sarcoglycan antigenic sites against which the antibodies were generated. The association of different two and/or three sarcoglycan molecules out of alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-sarcoglycan molecules was frequently observed. Each molecule of nNOS, beta-dystroglycan, and dystrophin was ultrastructurally noted along the cell surface of normal skeletal myofibers. Moreover, the close relation of a sarcoglycan molecule with beta-dystroglycan and dystrophin, and the association of nNOS with dystrophin were also confirmed ultrastructurally. Thus, this study demonstrated that the constituting molecules of the sarcoglycan complex, nNOS, beta-dystroglycan, and dystrophin existed in the form of a cluster at the normal muscle plasma membrane. The association of nNOS with dystrophin and its associated glycoproteins may form a macromolecular signaling complex at the muscle plasma membrane.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.