Published September 1, 1987 - More info
Actin microfilaments are anchored to the plasma membrane at focal contacts. Using an indirect immunofluorescence method, we detected an autoantibody reactive with focal contacts in PtK2, HEp-2, and BHK-21 cells in serum from two patients with early systemic sclerosis. With double immunofluorescence, using the actin-binding drug phalloidin, we localized the plaques decorated by these sera specifically at the termini of microfilament bundles. The reactive antigens were identified by immunoblotting as proteins of 80,000- and 75,300-mol wt in PtK2, and of 53,500-mol wt in HEp-2 and BHK-21 cells. The 53,500-mol wt protein was also identified in rat skeletal, myocardial, and smooth muscle tissues. The detergent solubility of these proteins suggested that they may be linked to the plasma membrane. The autoantigens were immunologically distinct from vinculin and alpha-actinin, two major proteins also known to be concentrated at the ends of microfilament bundles. Our observations suggest that this novel anticytoskeletal autoantibody may identify a novel family of vertebrate cell proteins involved in the linkage of microfilaments to the plasma membrane at focal contacts.