Rosenthal fibers (RFs) are abnormal inclusions within astrocytes, characteristic of Alexander's disease. We have previously isolated a 22 kd protein component of RFs from Alexander's disease brain. By Western blotting, we detected its equivalent in several rat organs, with the highest level in heart, and in a human astrocytoma cell line (U-373MG). A cDNA library established from U-373MG was screened with an anti-RF protein antibody. A partial cDNA clone encoding the lens protein αB-crystallin was isolated. The anti-RF protein antibodies react with lens αB-crystallin. Furthermore, the distribution of αB-crystallin mRNA in rat organs is consistent with the Western blots. Therefore, αB-crystallin is not lens-specific and it can accumulate in large amounts in astrocytes in pathological conditions.
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