Novel features of intermediate filament dynamics revealed by green fluorescent protein chimeras

Chung Liang Ho, Jayme L. Martys, Alexei Mikhailov, Gregg G. Gundersen, Ronald K.H. Liem

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In order to study the dynamic behavior of intermediate filament networks in living cells, we have prepared constructs fusing green fluorescent protein to intermediate filament proteins. Vimentin fused to green fluorescent protein labeled the endogenous intermediate filament network. We generated stable SW13 and NIH3T3 cell lines that express an enhanced green fluorescent protein fused to the N-terminus of full-length vimentin. We were able to observe the dynamic behavior of the intermediate filament network in these cells for periods as long as 4 hours (images acquired every 2 minutes). In both cell lines, the vimentin network constantly moves in a wavy manner. In the NIH3T3 cells, we observed extension of individual vimentin filaments at the edge of the cell. This movement is dependent on microtubules, since the addition of nocodazole stopped the extension of the intermediate filaments. Injection of anti-IFA causes the redistribution or 'collapse' of intermediate filaments. We injected anti-IFA antibodies into NIH3T3 cells stably expressing green fluorescent protein fused to vimentin and found that individual intermediate filaments move slowly towards the perinuclear area without obvious disassembly. These results demonstrate that individual intermediate filaments are translocated during the collapse, rather than undergoing disassembly-induced redistribution. Injections of tubulin antibodies disrupt the interactions between intermediate filaments and stable microtubules and cause the collapse of the vimentin network showing that these interactions play an important role in keeping the intermediate filament network extended. The nocodazole inhibition of intermediate filament extension and the anti-IFA microinjection experiments are consistent with a model in which intermediate filaments exhibit an extended distribution when tethered to microtubules, but are translocated to the perinuclear area when these connections are severed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1767-1778
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Aug 21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cell Biology

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    Ho, C. L., Martys, J. L., Mikhailov, A., Gundersen, G. G., & Liem, R. K. H. (1998). Novel features of intermediate filament dynamics revealed by green fluorescent protein chimeras. Journal of Cell Science, 111(13), 1767-1778.