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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1985;455:282-306.

Patterns of expression and organization of cytokeratin intermediate filaments.


Cytokeratins are a large multigene family comprising two polypeptide types, i.e. acidic (type I) and basic (type II) ones, which are distinguished on the basis of immunological, peptide mapping, mRNA hybridization, and primary amino acid sequence data. The acidic (type I) cytokeratins can be subdivided into at least two different subtypes on the basis of their carboxy-terminal sequences. Considerable interspecies conservation of sequences exists, even extending to the 3'-non-coding mRNA regions. Different pairs of type I and II cytokeratins show different resistance to dissociation in urea. Sequence differences of the type I cytokeratins containing functional domains may be an explanation of the observed preference of co-expression with certain type II cytokeratins. The distribution of the different type I and II cytokeratins in normal epithelia and in carcinomas is differentiation related and can be used for cell typing and identification. The cell type-specific expression of cytokeratin polypeptides is recognized at both the protein and the mRNA level. The building block of cytokeratin IFs is a heterotypic tetramer, consisting of two type I and two type II polypeptides arranged in pairs of laterally aligned coiled coils. This principle of tetrameric organization is thought to be generally applicable to IFs.

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