We studied the localization of desmin (skeletin), the major subunit of muscle-type intermediate filaments, by high resolution immunoelectron microscopy in adult chicken skeletal muscle. Immunoferritin labeling of ultrathin frozen sections of intact fixed sartorius muscle showed the presence of desmin between adjacent Z-bands and as strands peripheral to Z-bands, forming apparent connections between the Z-bands with adjacent sarcolemma, mitochondria, and nuclei. We observed no desmin labeling, however, in the vicinity of the T-tubules. In addition, intermediate filaments were morphologically discernible at the level of the Z-bands in plastic sections of glycerol-extracted muscle that had been infused with unlabeled antidesmin antibodies. Our results indicate that the desmin present in adult skeletal muscle, that had previously been detected by immunofluorescence light microscopy, is largely if not entirely in the form of intermediate filaments. The results provide evidence that these filaments serve to interconnect myofibrils at the level of their Z-bands, and to connect Z-bands with other specific structures and organelles in the myotube, but not with the T-tubule system.

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