Sarcoglycans in human skeletal muscle and human cardiac muscle: a confocal laser scanning microscope study

Cells Tissues Organs. 2003;173(1):54-63. doi: 10.1159/000068217.


Sarcoglycans are a subcomplex of transmembrane proteins which are part of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex. They are expressed in the skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle. Although numerous studies have been conducted on the sarcoglycan subcomplex in skeletal and cardiac muscle, the manner of the distribution and localization of these proteins along the nonjunctional sarcolemma is not clear. We therefore carried out an indirect immunofluorescence study on surgical biopsies of normal human skeletal muscle and of healthy human atrial myocardium biopsies of patients affected by valvulopathy. Our results indicate that, in skeletal muscle, sarcoglycans have a costameric distribution and all colocalize with each other. Only in a few cases did the alpha-sarcoglycan not colocalize with other sarcoglycans. In addition, these glycoproteins can be localized in different fibers either in the regions of the sarcolemma over band I or band A. In cardiac muscle, our results show a costameric distribution of all proteins examined and, unlike in skeletal muscle, they show a constant colocalization of all sarcoglycans with each other, along with a consistent localization of these proteins in the region of the sarcolemma over band I. In our opinion, this situation seems to confirm the hypothesis of a correlation between the region of the sarcolemma occupied by costameric proteins and the metabolic type, fast or slow, of the muscular fibers. These data, besides opening a new line of research in understanding interactions between the sarcoglycans and other transmembrane proteins, could also be extended to skeletal and cardiac muscles affected by neuromuscular and cardiovascular pathologies to understand possible structural alterations.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Dystrophin / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Heart Atria / cytology
  • Heart Atria / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Myocardium / cytology
  • Myocardium / metabolism*


  • Dystrophin
  • Membrane Glycoproteins