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Dystrophin is the key component in the assembly and maintenance of the dystrophin-associated protein complex (DPC) in skeletal muscle. In kidney, dystroglycan, an integral component of the DPC, is involved in kidney epithelial morphogenesis, suggesting that the DPC is important in linking the extracellular matrix to the internal cytoskeleton of kidney epithelia. Here, we have investigated the molecular architecture of dystrophin-like protein complexes in kidneys from normal and dystrophin-deficient mice. Using isoform-specific antibodies, we show that the different cell types that make up the kidney maintain different dystrophin-like complexes. These complexes can be broadly grouped according to their dystrobrevin content: beta-dystrobrevin containing complexes are present at the basal region of renal epithelial cells, whilst alpha-dystrobrevin-1 containing complexes are found in endothelial and smooth muscle cells. Furthermore, these complexes are maintained even in the absence of all dystrophin isoforms. Thus our data suggest that the functions and assembly of the dystrophin-like complexes in kidney differ from those in skeletal muscle and implicate a protein other than dystrophin as the primary molecule in the assembly and maintenance of kidney complexes. Our findings also provide a possible explanation for the lack of kidney pathology in Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients and mice lacking all dystrophin isoforms.


Journal article


J Cell Sci

Publication Date



113 ( Pt 15)


2715 - 2724


Animals, Antibody Specificity, Cytoskeletal Proteins, Dystrophin, Dystrophin-Associated Proteins, Epithelial Cells, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Kidney, Membrane Proteins, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inbred mdx, Muscle Proteins, Nephrons, Utrophin