Intermediate filaments (IF) appear to be attached to the nuclear envelope in various mammalian cell types. The nucleus of mouse keratinocytes is enveloped by a cagelike network of keratin-containing bundles of IF (IFB). This network appears to be continuous with the cytoplasmic IFB system that extends to the cell surface. Electron microscopy reveals that the IFB appear to terminate at the level of the nuclear envelope, frequently in association with nuclear pore complexes (Jones, J. C .R., A. E. Goldman, P. Steinert, S. Yuspa, and R. D. Goldman, 1982, Cell Motility, 2:197-213). Based on these observations of nuclear-IF associations, it is of interest to determine the fate and organizational states of IF during mitosis, a period in the cell cycle when the nuclear envelope disassembles. Immunofluorescence microscopy using a monoclonal keratin antibody and electron microscopy of thin and thick sections of mitotic mouse keratinocytes revealed that the IFB system remained intact as the cells entered mitosis and surrounded the developing mitotic spindle. IFB were close to chromosomes and often associated with chromosome arms. In contrast, in HeLa, a human epithelial cell, keratin-containing IFB appear to dissemble as cells enter mitosis (Franke, W. W., E. Schmid, C. Grund, and B. Geiger, 1982, Cell, 30:103-113). The keratin IFB in mitotic HeLa cells appeared to form amorphous nonfilamentous bodies as determined by electron microscopy. However, in HeLa, another IF system composed primarily of a 55,000-mol-wt protein (frequently termed vimentin) appears to remain morphologically intact throughout mitosis in close association with the mitotic apparatus (Celis, J.E., P.M. Larsen, S.J. Fey, and A. Celis, 1983, J. Cell Biol., 97:1429-34). We propose that the mitotic apparatus in both mouse epidermal cells and in HeLa cells is supported and centered within the cell by IFB networks.

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