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Dystrophin coordinates the assembly of a complex of structural and signalling proteins that is required for normal muscle function. A key component of the dystrophin-associated protein complex (DPC) is alpha-dystrobrevin, a dystrophin-related and -associated protein whose absence results in muscular dystrophy and neuromuscular junction defects [1,2]. The current model of the DPC predicts that dystrophin and dystrobrevin each bind a single syntrophin molecule [3]. The syntrophins are PDZ-domain-containing proteins that facilitate the recruitment of signalling proteins such as nNOS (neuronal nitric oxide synthase) to the DPC [4]. Here we show, using yeast two-hybrid analysis and biochemical binding studies, that alpha-dystrobrevin in fact contains two independent syntrophin-binding sites in tandem. The previously undescribed binding site is situated within an alternatively spliced exon of alpha-dystrobrevin, termed the variable region-3 (vr3) sequence, which is specifically expressed in skeletal and cardiac muscle [5,6]. Analysis of the syntrophin-binding region of dystrobrevin reveals a tandem pair of predicted alpha helices with significant sequence similarity. These alpha helices, each termed a syntrophin-binding motif, are also highly conserved in dystrophin and utrophin. Together these data show that there are four potential syntrophin-binding sites per dystrophin complex in skeletal muscle: two on dystrobrevin and two on dystrophin or utrophin. Furthermore, alternative splicing of dystrobrevin provides a mechanism for regulating the stoichiometry of syntrophin association with the DPC. This is likely to have important consequences for the recruitment of specific signalling molecules to the DPC and ultimately for its function.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date





1295 - 1298


Alternative Splicing, Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Binding Sites, Consensus Sequence, Cytoskeletal Proteins, Dystrophin, Dystrophin-Associated Proteins, Humans, Kinetics, Membrane Proteins, Molecular Sequence Data, Muscle Proteins, Peptide Fragments, Sequence Alignment, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid