A layer of amorphous, electron-dense material is situated at the cytoplasmic surface of the postsynaptic membrane of vertebrate neuromuscular synapses. The function of this structure is not clear, but its location suggests that it may have an important role in the formation and/or maintenance of the synapse. This paper demonstrates that a monoclonal antibody raised against antigens from Torpedo electric organ binds to an intracellular, postsynaptic protein at the frog neuromuscular synapse. Indirect immunofluorescence on frozen sections of frog muscle was used to demonstrate that the antigen is concentrated at synaptic sites in normal muscle. In denervated muscle, the antigen remains concentrated at synaptic sites, but is also present at extrasynaptic regions of denervated myofibers. The antigen cannot be labeled in intact, whole muscle, but only in whole muscle that has been permeabilized with nonionic detergents. The antibody staining pattern in Triton X-100-permeabilized whole-mounts of the frog neuromuscular synapse is arranged in elongate, arborized areas which are characteristic of the frog neuromuscular synapse. The stained areas are striated and the striations occur with a periodicity that corresponds to the regular folding of the postsynaptic membrane. Immunoferritin labeling of fixed, saponin-permeabilized muscle demonstrates that the antigen is associated with amorphous material that is situated between the postsynaptic membrane and an underlying layer of intermediate filaments. The antigen, solubilized from membrane and an underlying layer of intermediate filaments. The antigen, solubilized from Torpedo electric organ by high ionic strength, was identified by antibody binding to nitrocellulose replicas of SDS gels of Torpedo tissue. In Torpedo tissue, the antibody binds to a single protein band at 51,000 daltons (51 kd). The 51-kd protein shares an antigenic determinant with intermediate filament proteins, since a monoclonal antibody to all intermediate filaments reacts with the same 51-kd protein. The monoclonal antibody also reacts with a 55-kd protein in frog skin which is localized to the perinuclear region of the epithelial cells.

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