Intermediate filaments as organizers of subcellular space

Nicole Schwarz with Sonja Lehmann

Intermediate filaments together with actin filaments and microtubules form the cytoskeleton, which is a complex and highly dynamic 3D network. Intermediate filaments are the major mechanical stress protectors but also affect cell growth, differentiation, signal transduction, and migration. Examining intermediate filament-mitochondrial crosstalk as a prominent example (Figure 1), we study the importance of intermediate filaments as crucial organizers of cytoplasmic space to support these functions. We examine in different mammalian cell types how intermediate filaments influence mitochondrial morphology, subcellular localization, and function through direct and indirect interactions and how perturbations of these interactions may lead to human diseases.

Figure 1. Schematic synopsis of different modes of interaction between intermediate filaments and mitochondria

(The figure is taken from Schwarz and Leube, 2016, Cells 5:30.)