Synemin: A New High Molecular Weight Protein Associated With Desmin and Vimentin Filaments in Muscle

Cell. 1980 Dec;22(3):727-38. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(80)90549-8.


A 230,000 dalton polypeptide co-purifies through cycles of depolymerization and polymerization with the intermediate filament subunits, desmin and vimentin, from avian smooth muscle. This protein is also present in skeletal muscle and is distinct from myosin and filamin. Double immunofluorescence microscopy of cultured cells, using antisera shown to be specific by immunoautoradiography, has revealed that this protein has the same spatial distribution as desmin and vimentin. During skeletal myogenesis, all three antigens exist initially in multinucleate myotubes as wavy filaments throughout the cytoplasm. Within a week after myoblast fusion, they begin to coalesce at the peripheries of the myofibril Z discs, thereby attaining the distribution observed in mature muscle, a network of interlinked rings within the Z plane. Treatment of cultured myotubes with colcemid causes the filamentous forms of these three proteins to co-aggregate into cytoplasmic bundles, but has little effect on them when they are associated with the Z discs. Extraction of cells with nonionic detergent and high salt leaves cytoskeletons containing desmin, vimentin and the 230,000 dalton polypeptide with immunofluorescent patterns that are indistinguishable from one another. These data suggest that this high molecular weight protein is closely associated with desmin and vimentin filaments in muscle cells; to indicate this, we have named the protein synemin, from the Greek oa uv (with) and v eta mu alpha (filament).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carrier Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Demecolcine / pharmacology
  • Desmin
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Isoelectric Point
  • Molecular Weight
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Smooth / metabolism
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Vimentin


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Desmin
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Vimentin
  • desmuslin
  • Demecolcine