Plectin–intermediate filament partnership in skin, skeletal muscle, and peripheral nerve
Plectin, the largest and most versatile member of the cytolinker/plakin family of proteins characterized to date, has a tripartite structure comprising a central 200 nm-long (&agr;)-helical rod domain flanked by large globular domains. The C-terminal domain comprises a short tail region preceded by six highly conserved repeats (each 28-39 kDa), one of which (repeat 5) contains plectin's intermediate filament (IF)-binding site. We used recombinant and native proteins to assess the effects of plectin repeat 5-binding to IF proteins of different types. Quantitative Eu(3+)-based overlay assays showed that plectin's repeat 5 domain bound to type III IF proteins (vimentin) with preference over type I and II cytokeratins 5 and 14. The ability of both types of IF proteins to self-assemble into filaments in vitro was impaired by plectin's repeat 5 domain in a concentration-dependent manner, as revealed by negative staining and rotary shadowing electron microscopy. This effect was much more pronounced in the case of vimentin compared to cytokeratins 5/14. Preassembled filaments of both types became more and more crosslinked upon incubation with increasing concentrations of plectin repeat 5. However, at high proportions of plectin to IF proteins, disassembly of filaments occurred. Again, vimentin filaments proved considerably more sensitive towards disassembly than those composed of cytokeratins 5 and 14. In general, IFs formed from recombinant proteins were found to be slightly more responsive towards plectin influences than their native counterparts. A dose-dependent plectin-inflicted collapse and putative disruption of IFs was also observed in vivo after ectopic expression of vimentin and plectin's repeat 5 domain in cotransfected vimentin-deficient SW13 (vim(-)) cells. Our results suggest an involvement of plectin not only in crosslinking and stabilization of cytoskeletal IF networks, but also in regulation of their dynamics.