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EMBO J. 2002 Mar 15;21(6):1255-66.

Conserved segments 1A and 2B of the intermediate filament dimer: their atomic structures and role in filament assembly.

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  • 1Maurice E.Müller Institute for Structural Biology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 70, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland. sergei-v.strelkov@unibas.ch

Abstract

Intermediate filaments (IFs) are key components of the cytoskeleton in higher eukaryotic cells. The elementary IF 'building block' is an elongated coiled-coil dimer consisting of four consecutive alpha-helical segments. The segments 1A and 2B include highly conserved sequences and are critically involved in IF assembly. Based on the crystal structures of three human vimentin fragments at 1.4-2.3 A resolution (PDB entries 1gk4, 1gk6 and 1gk7), we have established the molecular organization of these two segments. The fragment corresponding to segment 1A forms a single, amphipatic alpha-helix, which is compatible with a coiled-coil geometry. While this segment might yield a coiled coil within an isolated dimer, monomeric 1A helices are likely to play a role in specific dimer-dimer interactions during IF assembly. The 2B segment reveals a double-stranded coiled coil, which unwinds near residue Phe351 to accommodate a 'stutter'. A fragment containing the last seven heptads of 2B interferes heavily with IF assembly and also transforms mature vimentin filaments into a new kind of structure. These results provide the first insight into the architecture and functioning of IFs at the atomic level.

PMID:
11889032
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC125921
Free PMC Article
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