Models to Study Intermediate Filament Dynamics and Functions

Elin Torvaldson

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Intermediate filaments are part of the cytoskeleton and nucleoskeleton; they provide cells with structure and have important roles in cell signalling. The IFs are a large protein family with more than 70 members; each tightly regulated and expressed in a cell type-specific manner. Although the IFs have been known and studied for decades, our knowledge about their specific functions is still limited, despite the fact that mutations in IF genes cause numerous severe human diseases.

In this work, three IF proteins are examined more closely; the nuclear lamin A/C and the cytoplasmic nestin and vimentin. In particular the regulation of lamin A/C dynamics, the role of nestin in muscle and body homeostasis as well as the functions and evolutionary aspects of vimentin are investigated. Together this data highlights some less well understood functions of these IFs.

We used mass-spectrometry to identify inter-phase specific phosphorylation sites on lamin A. With the use of genetically engineered lamin A protein in combination with high resolution microscopy and biochemical methods we discovered novel roles for this phosphorylation in regulation of lamin dynamics. More specifically, our data suggests that the phosphorylation of certain amino acids in lamin A determines the localization and dynamics of the protein. In addition, we present results demonstrating that lamin A regulates Cdk5-activity.

In the second study we use mice lacking nestin to gain more knowledge of this seldom studied protein. Our results show that nestin is essential for muscle regeneration; mice lacking nestin recover more slowly from muscle injury and show signs of spontaneous muscle regeneration, indicating that their muscles are more sensitive to stresses and injury. The absence of nestin also leads to decreased over-all muscle mass and slower body growth. Furthermore, nestin has a role in controlling testicle homeostasis as nestin-/- male mice show a greater variation in testicle size.

The common fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster lacks cytoplasmic IFs as most insects do. By creating a fly that expresses human vimentin we establish a new research platform for vimentin studies, as well as provide a new tool for the studies of IF evolution.    

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Print ISBNs978-952-12-3330-2
Electronic ISBNs978-952-12-3331-9
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

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