Using purified components in affinity chromatography and blot binding assays, we have found that rat liver lamins A, B, and C can associate in homotypic and heterotypic fashions. Heterotypic A-B and C-B complexes are unusually stable and involve the common amino-terminal domain of lamins A and C, but not their helical "rod" domain. A synthetic peptide, comprising the first 32 amino acid residues of lamins A and C, is able to fully compete with the intact molecules for binding to lamin B. Conversely, heterotypic A-C associations and homotypic A-A and C-C interactions appear significantly weaker than A/C-B binding and do not involve the lamin A and C amino-terminal domain. Homotypic B-B complexes are not formed to any considerable extent unless isolated lamin B subunits are "superphosphorylated" in vitro with protein kinase A. However, when lamins A and C are similarly modified, no changes in their binding specificity can be detected. These data suggest that the nuclear lamina, unlike other multicomponent intermediate filaments, constitutes a nonobligatory heteropolymer. They also indicate that cAMP-dependent phosphorylation of interphase lamin B could cause remodeling of the lamina and establishment of homopolymeric domains
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