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

The two-chain coiled-coil molecule of native epidermal keratin intermediate filaments is a type I-type II heterodimer.

The composition of the two-chain coiled-coil molecule of murine epidermal keratin intermediate filaments (KIF) containing keratins 1 (type II) and 10 (type I) has been explored using native-type KIF as well as KIF reassembled in vitro from protein dissolved in urea solutions or from mixtures of 3H-labeled and unlabeled purified chains. By use of cross-linking, high resolution polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and blotting for 3H-labeled keratins or with an anti-mouse keratin 10 antibody, it was found that individual keratin chains form type I or type II homodimers and homotetramers in solution that do not assemble into KIF in vitro. When mixed in urea solutions of 5 M or greater, such homo-oligomers rapidly rearrange into mostly heterodimers and heterotetramers that support filament assembly. On the other hand, prekeratin, isolated from newborn mouse epidermis with 0.1 M sodium citrate buffer, pH 2.6, under conditions that do not dissociate the native coiled-coil molecule, consists exclusively of type I-II heterodimers and heterotetramers. It is necessary to dissolve prekeratin in 8-9.5 M urea for several hours in order to dissociate the native heterodimer molecule and incorporate tracer amounts of a single 3H-labeled keratin chain. These data establish that native KIF consist of heterodimer coiled-coil molecules. Furthermore, heterodimers are much more stable than homodimers and are the favored form of association in solution. However, some homodimers (10-30% of total) always form after dissolution in concentrated urea and can be assimilated into KIF during reassembly in vitro. The isolation of alpha-helix-enriched dimer particles from the 2B region of the rod domains upon limited proteolysis confirmed the presence of mostly heterodimer and some homodimer molecules in reassembled KIF. These properties of keratin chains in urea solutions hereby clarify a number of conflicting reports in the literature concerning the composition of the coiled-coil molecule. The presence of some homo-oligomeric species in reassembled KIF correlates with earlier observations of polymorphism as well as stoichiometry.[1]


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