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Exp Cell Res. 2008 Nov 15;314(19):3570-80. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2008.09.012. Epub 2008 Sep 26.

Plectin deficiency affects precursor formation and dynamics of vimentin networks.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Max F. Perutz Laboratories, University of Vienna, Campus Vienna Biocenter, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.


Plectin is a typical cytolinker protein that connects intermediate filaments to the other cytoskeletal filament systems and anchors them at membrane-associated junctional sites. One of the most important binding partners of plectin in fibroblasts is the intermediate filament subunit protein vimentin. Previous studies have demonstrated that vimentin networks are highly dynamic structures whose assembly and disassembly is accomplished stepwise via several intermediates. The precursor forms as well as polymerized (filamentous) vimentin are found in the cells in a dynamic equilibrium characterized by the turnover of the subunits within the polymer and the movement of the smaller precursors. To examine whether plectin plays a role in intermediate filament dynamics, we studied vimentin filament formation in plectin-deficient compared to wild-type fibroblasts using GFP-tagged vimentin. Monitoring vimentin and plectin in spreading and dividing cells, we demonstrate that plectin is associated with vimentin from the early stages of assembly and is required for vimentin motility as well as for the stepwise formation of stable filaments. Furthermore, plectin prevents vimentin networks from complete disassembly during mitosis, facilitating the rebuilding of the intermediate filament network in daughter cells.

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