The Cytoplasm Is Organized by the Cytoskeleton and Is Highly Dynamic

Electron microscopy reveals several types of protein filaments crisscrossing the eukaryotic cell, forming an interlocking three-dimensional meshwork, the cytoskeleton. There are three general types of cytoplasmic filaments— actin filaments, microtubules, and intermediate filaments (Fig. 1-9)—differing in width (from about 6 to 22 nm), composition, and specific function. All types provide structure and organization to the cytoplasm and shape to the cell. Actin filaments and microtubules also help to produce the motion of organelles or of the whole cell.

Each type of cytoskeletal component is composed of simple protein subunits that polymerize to form filaments of uniform thickness. These filaments are not permanent structures; they undergo constant disassembly

FIGURE 1-9 The three types of cytoskeletal filaments. The upper panels show epithelial cells photographed after treatment with antibodies that bind to and specifically stain (a) actin filaments bundled together to form "stress fibers," (b) microtubules radiating from the cell center, and (c) intermediate filaments extending throughout the cytoplasm. For these experiments, antibodies that specifically recognize actin, tubu-

into their protein subunits and reassembly into filaments. Their locations in cells are not rigidly fixed but may change dramatically with mitosis, cytokinesis, amoeboid motion, or changes in cell shape. The assembly, disassembly, and location of all types of filaments are regulated by other proteins, which serve to link or bundle the filaments or to move cytoplasmic organelles along the filaments.

The picture that emerges from this brief survey of cell structure is that of a eukaryotic cell with a meshwork of structural fibers and a complex system of membrane-bounded compartments (Fig. 1-7). The filaments disassemble and then reassemble elsewhere. Membranous vesicles bud from one organelle and fuse with another. Organelles move through the cytoplasm along protein filaments, their motion powered by energy dependent motor proteins. The endomembrane system segregates specific metabolic processes and provides surfaces on which certain enzyme-catalyzed reactions occur. Exocytosis and endocytosis, mechanisms of transport (out of and into cells, respectively) that involve membrane fusion and fission, provide paths between the cytoplasm and surrounding medium, allowing for secretion of substances produced within the cell and uptake of extracellular materials.

lin, or intermediate filament proteins are covalently attached to a fluorescent compound. When the cell is viewed with a fluorescence microscope, only the stained structures are visible. The lower panels show each type of filament as visualized by (a, b) transmission or (c) scanning electron microscopy.

Actin Filaments Microscopy

FIGURE 1-9 The three types of cytoskeletal filaments. The upper panels show epithelial cells photographed after treatment with antibodies that bind to and specifically stain (a) actin filaments bundled together to form "stress fibers," (b) microtubules radiating from the cell center, and (c) intermediate filaments extending throughout the cytoplasm. For these experiments, antibodies that specifically recognize actin, tubu-

lin, or intermediate filament proteins are covalently attached to a fluorescent compound. When the cell is viewed with a fluorescence microscope, only the stained structures are visible. The lower panels show each type of filament as visualized by (a, b) transmission or (c) scanning electron microscopy.

Although complex, this organization of the cytoplasm is far from random. The motion and the positioning of organelles and cytoskeletal elements are under tight regulation, and at certain stages in a eukaryotic cell's life, dramatic, finely orchestrated reorganizations, such as the events of mitosis, occur. The interactions between the cytoskeleton and organelles are noncovalent,

(a) Some of the amino acids of proteins

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Responses

  • hyiab
    How are intermediate fibers organized?
    9 years ago
  • kyle
    Why is the cytoskeleton dynamic?
    8 years ago

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