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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Intermediate filaments are required for C. elegans epidermal elongation.

Cytoplasmic intermediate filaments (cIFs) are thought to provide mechanical strength to vertebrate cells; however, their function in invertebrates has been largely unexplored. The Caenorhabditis elegans genome encodes multiple cIFs. The C. elegans ifb-1 locus encodes two cIF isoforms, IFB-1A and IFB-1B, that differ in their head domains. We show that both IFB-1 isoforms are expressed in epidermal cells, within which they are localized to muscle-epidermal attachment structures. Reduction in IFB-1A function by mutation or RNA interference (RNAi) causes epidermal fragility, abnormal epidermal morphogenesis, and muscle detachment, consistent with IFB-1A providing mechanical strength to epidermal attachment structures. Reduction in IFB-1B function causes morphogenetic defects and defective outgrowth of the excretory cell. Reduction in function of both IFB-1 isoforms results in embryonic arrest due to muscle detachment and failure in epidermal cell elongation at the 2-fold stage. Two other cIFs, IFA-2 and IFA-3, are expressed in epidermal cells. We show that loss of function in IFA-3 results in defects in morphogenesis indistinguishable from those of embryos lacking ifb-1. In contrast, IFA-2 is not required for embryonic morphogenesis. Our data indicate that IFB-1 and IFA-3 are likely the major cIF isoforms in embryonic epidermal attachment structures.[1]


  1. Intermediate filaments are required for C. elegans epidermal elongation. Woo, W.M., Goncharov, A., Jin, Y., Chisholm, A.D. Dev. Biol. (2004) [Pubmed]
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