Intermediate Filaments Support the Nuclear Membrane and Help Connect Cells into Tissues

Intermediate filaments typically crisscross the cytosol, forming an internal framework that stretches from the nuclear envelope to the plasma membrane (Figure 5-32). A network of intermediate filaments is located adjacent to some cellular membranes, where it provides mechanical support. For example, lamin A and lamin C filaments form an orthogonal lattice that is associated with lamin B. The entire supporting structure, called the nuclear lamina, is anchored to the inner nuclear membrane by prenyl anchors on lamin B.

At the plasma membrane, intermediate filaments are attached by adapter proteins to specialized cell junctions called

▲ FIGURE 5-32 Fluorescence micrograph of a PtK2 fibroblast cell stained to reveal keratin intermediate filaments. A network of filaments crisscrosses the cell from the nucleus to the plasma membrane. At the plasma membrane, the filaments are linked by adapter proteins to two types of anchoring junctions: desmosomes between adjacent cells and hemidesmosomes between the cell and the matrix. [Courtesy of R. D. Goldman.]

desmosomes and hemidesmosomes, which mediate cell-cell adhesion and cell-matrix adhesion, respectively, particularly in epithelial tissues. In this way, intermediate filaments in one cell are indirectly connected to intermediate filaments in a neighboring cell or to the extracellular matrix. Because of the important role of cell junctions in cell adhesion and the stability of tissues, we consider their structure and relation to cytoskeletal filaments in detail in Chapter 6.

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