Intermediate filaments (IF) isolated from human epithelial cells (HeLa) can be disassembled in 8 M urea and reassembled in phosphate-buffered solutions containing greater than 0.1 mg/ml IF protein. Eight proteins were associated with HeLa IF after several disassembly-reassembly cycles as determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate gel electrophoresis (SDS PAGE). A rabbit antiserum directed against HeLa IF contained antibodies to most of these proteins. The immunofluorescence pattern that was seen in HeLa cells with this antiserum is complex. It consisted of a juxtanuclear accumulation of IF protein and a weblike array of cytoplasmic fibers extending to the cell border. Following preadsorption with individual HeLa IF proteins, the immunofluorescence pattern in HeLa cells was altered to suggest the presence of at least two distinct IF networks. The amino acid composition and alpha-helix content (approximately 38%) of HeLa IF proteins was similar to the values obtained for other IF proteins. One-dimensional peptide maps show extensive homology between the major HeLa IF protein of 55,000-mol-wt and a similar 55,000-mol-wt protein obtained from hamster fibroblasts (BHK-21). HeLa 55,000-mol-wt homopolymer IF assembled under conditions similar to those required for BHK-21 55,000-mol-wt homopolymers. Several other proteins present in HeLa IF preparations may be keratin-like structural proteins. The results obtained in these studies indicate that the major HeLa IF protein is the same major IF structural protein found in fibroblasts. Ultrastructural studies of HeLa cells revealed two distinct IF organizational stages including bundles and loose arrays. In addition, in vitro reconstituted HeLa IF also exhibited these two organizational states.

This content is only available as a PDF.