Send to

Choose Destination
Bioarchitecture. 2011 Jan;1(1):39-44.

"Panta rhei": Perpetual cycling of the keratin cytoskeleton.

Author information

Institute of Molecular and Cellular Anatomy; RWTH Aachen University; Aachen, Germany.


The filamentous cytoskeletal systems fulfil seemingly incompatible functions by maintaining a stable scaffolding to ensure tissue integrity and simultaneously facilitating rapid adaptation to intracellular processes and environmental stimuli. This paradox is particularly obvious for the abundant keratin intermediate filaments in epithelial tissues. The epidermal keratin cytoskeleton, for example, supports the protective and selective barrier function of the skin while enabling rapid growth and remodelling in response to physical, chemical and microbial challenges. We propose that these dynamic properties are linked to the perpetual re-cycling of keratin intermediate filaments that we observe in cultured cells. This cycle of assembly and disassembly is independent of protein biosynthesis and consists of distinct, temporally and spatially defined steps. In this way, the keratin cytoskeleton remains in constant motion but stays intact and is also able to restructure rapidly in response to specific regulatory cues as is needed, e.g., during division, differentiation and wound healing.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center