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Exp Mol Pathol. 2002 Feb;72(1):17-23.

The Mallory body as an aggresome: in vitro studies.

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Department of Pathology, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California 90509, USA.


Prior in vivo studies supported the concept that Mallory bodies (MBs) are aggresomes of cytokeratins 8 and 18. However, to test this hypothesis an in vitro model is needed to study the dynamics of MB formation. Such a study is difficult because MBs have never been induced in tissue culture. Therefore, MBs were first induced in vivo in drug-primed mice and then primary cultures of hepatocytes from these mice were studied. Two approaches were utilized: 1. Primary cultures were transfected with plasmids containing the sequence for cytokeratin 18 (CK 18) tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP). 2. Immunofluorescent staining was used to localize the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway components involved in MB-aggresome complex formation in primary hepatocyte cultures. The cells were double stained with a ubiquitin antibody and one of the following antibodies: CK 8, CK 18, tubulin, mutant ubiquitin (UBB+1), transglutaminase, phosphothreonine, and the 20S and 26S proteasome subunits P25 and Tbp7, respectively. In the first approach, fluorescence was observed in keratin filaments and MBs 48 h after the cells were transfected with the CK 18 GFP plasmid. Nascent cytokeratin 18 was preferentially concentrated in MBs. Less fluorescence was observed in the normal keratin filaments. This indicated that MBs continued to form in vitro. The immunofluorescent staining of the hepatocytes showed that CK 8 and 18, ubiquitin, mutant ubiquitin (UBB+1), P25, Tbp7, phosphothreonine, tubulin, and transglutaminase were all located at the border or the interior of the MB. These results support the concept that MBs are aggresomes of CK 8 and CK18 and are a result of inhibition of the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway of protein degradation possibly caused by UBB+1.

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