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Biochem J. 2008 Feb 1;409(3):e1-2. doi: 10.1042/BJ20071674.

An alternatively spliced exon links intermediate filaments to adhesions.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Oncology, Consorzio Mario Negri Sud, Santa Maria Imbaro, Italy.


Anchorage of the contractile actomyosin apparatus to the plasma membrane at discrete sites in muscle and non-muscle cells enables the transmission and conversion of force into work, such as muscle contraction and membrane deformation to regulate cell and tissue shape. Assembly, stabilization and turnover of adhesion sites are complex processes that involve structural components, a variety of signalling and adapter molecules, diverse kinases and phosphatases, and phospholipids. The dynamic turnover of adhesions also requires the frequent interaction with other filament systems of the cytoskeleton, in particular with microtubules. How the delivery and activation of all the required components is co-ordinated, however, remains to be fully understood. In the current issue of Biochemical Journal, Sun et al. provide evidence that a specific exon that is exclusively present in the alpha variant of the type IV intermediate filament protein synemin interacts directly with the focal adhesion protein vinculin in its active state. Interaction of adhesion components with intermediate filaments could serve as a general mechanism to regulate cell- and tissue-specific cytoskeleton-membrane attachment.

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