Sarcoglycan subcomplex in normal human smooth muscle: an immunohistochemical and molecular study.

Giuseppe Anastasi, Giuseppina Cutroneo, Antonina Sidoti, Giuseppe Santoro, Rosalia D'Angelo, Giuseppina Rizzo, Carmen Rinaldi, Oddone Giacobbe, Placido Bramanti, Giuseppe Navarra, Aldo Amato, Angelo Favaloro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The sarcoglycans are transmembrane components of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex, which links the cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix in adult muscle fibers. Sarcoglycans seem to be functionally and pathologically as important as dystrophin. In the skeletal and cardiac muscle, the sarcoglycan subcomplex is a heterotetrameric unit composed of the transmembrane glycoproteins alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-sarcoglycan. A fifth sarcoglycan with significant homology to alpha-sarcoglycan, epsilon-sarcoglycan, has been identified; this sarcoglycan is expressed in both muscle and non-muscle cells. It is hypothesized that epsilon-sarcoglycan might replace alpha-sarcoglycan in smooth muscle, forming a novel sarcoglycan subcomplex consisting of epsilon-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-sarcoglycan. Recently, zeta-sarcoglycan, a novel sarcoglycan highly related to gamma-sarcoglycan and delta-sarcoglycan, has been identified. On this basis, growing evidence suggests that there are two types of sarcoglycan complex; one, in skeletal and cardiac muscle, consisting of alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-sarcoglycan; and the other, in smooth muscle, containing beta-, delta-, zeta- and epsilon-sarcoglycan. epsilon-sarcoglycan may be substituted for alpha-sarcoglycan in a subset of striated muscle complexes. Our results, obtained with immunofluorescence semi-quantitative analysis and molecular methods on smooth muscle biopsies of human adult gastroenteric tract, show for the first time that alpha-sarcoglycan fluorescence is also always detectable in smooth muscle, although its staining pattern is lower than epsilon-sarcoglycan. Normal alpha-sarcoglycan staining was detected at times, whereas there was reduced, but clearly detectable staining for epsilon-sarcoglycan. Moreover, gamma-sarcoglycan staining is always detectable in all analyzed biopsies. On the basis of our results, we would be able to hypothesize the existence of a pentameric or, considering zeta-sarcolgycan, a hexameric arrangement of the sarcoglycan subcomplex. The hexameric sarcoglycan subcomplex, in conformity with a larger or lower expression of single sarcoglycans, could characterize skeletal, cardiac or smooth muscle, or distinct parts of gastroenteric tract. It is intriguing to integrate these results with other vascular and urogenital smooth muscle, skeletal and cardiac muscle, while also analyzing zeta-sarcoglycan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-374
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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