Molecular studies have identified a family of synaptic vesicle-associated membrane proteins (VAMPs, also known as synaptobrevins) which have been implicated in synaptic vesicle docking and/or fusion with plasma membrane proteins. Here we demonstrate the expression of two members of this family, VAMP-2/synaptobrevin II and cellubrevin, in skeletal muscle, a tissue with both constitutive and regulated membrane traffic. The 18 kDa VAMP-2 polypeptide was detected in purified membrane fractions from adult skeletal muscle and from L6 myotubes in culture, demonstrating that the presence of this protein in the isolated muscle membrane fractions is not the result of contamination by ancillary tissues such as peripheral nerve. Furthermore, skeletal muscle and the muscle cell line also expressed cellubrevin, a VAMP-2 homologue of 17 kDa; which is much less abundant in brain cells. Both VAMP-2 and cellubrevin were preferentially isolated in membrane fractions rich in plasma membranes, and were less concentrated in light microsomes and other internal membrane fractions of mature muscle or muscle cells in culture. Interestingly, both VAMP-2 and cellubrevin were much more abundant in the differentiated L6 myotubes than in their precursor myoblasts, suggesting that they are required for functions of differentiated muscle cells. The identity of both polypeptides was further confirmed by their susceptibility to proteolysis by Clostridium tetanus toxin. Expression of these products was further established by the presence of mRNA transcripts of VAMP-2 and cellubrevin, but not of VAMP-1, in both skeletal muscle and L6 myotubes. In contrast, other synaptic vesicle and docking/fusion components were undetectable, such as VAMP-1, SNAP25 and syntaxin 1A/1B, as were synaptophysin and synapsin Ia/Ib, proteins which are believed to be involved in sensing the signal for neuronal exocytosis. It is concluded that VAMP-2 and cellubrevin are expressed in skeletal muscle cells and may each participate in specific processes of intracellular membrane traffic.
- © 1994 The Biochemical Society, London