Plectin Tethers Desmin Intermediate Filaments Onto Subsarcolemmal Dense Plaques Containing Dystrophin and Vinculin

Histochem Cell Biol. 2003 Feb;119(2):109-23. doi: 10.1007/s00418-003-0496-5. Epub 2003 Jan 18.


Plectin is a versatile cytoskeletal linker protein that preferentially localizes at interfaces between intermediate filaments and the plasma membrane in muscle, epithelial cells, and other tissues. Its deficiency causes muscular dystrophy with epidermolysis bullosa simplex. To better understand the functional roles of plectin beneath the sarcolemma of skeletal muscles and to gain some insights into the underlying mechanism of plectin-deficient muscular dystrophy, we studied in vivo structural and molecular relationships of plectin to subsarcolemmal cytoskeletal components, such as desmin, dystrophin, and vinculin, in rat skeletal muscles. Immunogold electron microscopy revealed that plectin fine threads tethered desmin intermediate filaments onto subsarcolemmal dense plaques overlying Z-lines and I-bands. These dense plaques were found to contain dystrophin and vinculin, and thus may be the structural basis of costameres. The in vivo association of plectin with desmin, (meta-)vinculin, dystrophin, and actin was demonstrated by immunoprecipitation experiments. Treatment of plectin immunoprecipitates with gelsolin reduced actin, dystrophin, and (meta-)vinculin but not desmin, implicating that subsarcolemmal actin could partly mediate the interaction between plectin and dystrophin or (meta-)vinculin. Altogether, our data suggest that plectin, along with desmin intermediate filaments, might serve a vital structural role in the stabilization of the subsarcolemmal cytoskeleton.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dystrophin / metabolism*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / immunology
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / metabolism*
  • Intermediate Filaments / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Plectin
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Sarcolemma / metabolism*
  • Sarcolemma / ultrastructure
  • Vinculin / metabolism*


  • Dystrophin
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Plec protein, rat
  • Plectin
  • Vinculin