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Cell Death Differ. 2009 Jun;16(6):826-37. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2009.12. Epub 2009 Mar 13.

The Pirh2-keratin 8/18 interaction modulates the cellular distribution of mitochondria and UV-induced apoptosis.

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Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale and School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Anhui, People's Republic of China.


Intermediate filaments (IFs) provide crucial structural support in higher eukaryotic cells. Accumulating evidences show that IFs also participate in various cellular activities including stress responses, cell growth, cell death and cell migration through dynamic interactions with various non-structure proteins. Here we report the identification of Pirh2, a RING-H2-type ubiquitin E3 ligase, as a novel binding partner of the cytoplasmic IF proteins keratin 8/18 (K8/18). Phosphorylation of either Pirh2 or K8/18 affects their association. Although Pirh2 was not found to influence the stability of K8/18, it displayed an unexpected role in regulating the organization of the network of K8/18 keratin filaments. Disruption of Pirh2-K8/K18 interaction by either UV irradiation or knockdown with Pirh2 or K18 led to the aggregation of K8/18 keratin filaments. It further induced mitochondrial redistribution, and this process is likely through a microtubule-mediated pathway. The abnormal localization of mitochondria in Pirh2-knockdown cells may partially account for its increased cell sensitivity to UV-induced apoptosis, probably through enhancing the release of pro-apoptotic proteins, such as cytochrome c and Smac/DIABLO to the cytosol. Overall, our data reveal the novel role of the Pirh2-K8/18 complex in governing the distribution of mitochondria.

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