Anomalous apical plasma membrane phenotype in CK8-deficient mice indicates a novel role for intermediate filaments in the polarization of simple epithelia

Nadia A. Ameen, Yolanda Figueroa, Pedro J.I. Salas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

81 Scopus citations


Previous results from our laboratory have indicated a requirement for CK intermediate filaments (IF) for the organization of the apical domain in polarized epithelial cells in culture. The results seemed to be challenged by the phenotype of cytokeratin (CK) 8-deficient mice, which comprises only colorectal hyperplasia, female sterility and a weaker hepatocyte integrity. In this work localization with anti-CK antibodies indicated that many Ck8-/- epithelia still form IF in CK8-deficient mice, perhaps because of the expression of the promiscuous CK7. In the small intestine, only villus enterocytes lacked IFs. These cells appeared to lose syntaxin 3, and three apical membrane proteins (alkaline phosphatase, sucrase isomaltase and cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator) as they progressed along the villus. At the distal third of the villi, γ-tubulin was found scattered within the cytoplasm of enterocytes, in contrast to its normal sub-apical localization, and the microtubules were disorganized. These results could not be attributed to increased numbers of apoptotic or necrotic cells. The only other cell type were found without IFs in CK8 null mice, the hepatocyte, displayed increased basolateral levels of one apical marker (HA4), indicating a correlation between the lack of intermediate filaments and an apical domain phenotype. These data suggest a novel function for intermediate filaments organizing the apical pole of simple polarized epithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-575
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 14 2001



  • γ-tubulin
  • Bile canaliculus
  • Cell polarity
  • CFTR
  • Enterocytes
  • Hepatocytes
  • Intestinal enzymes
  • Keratin knockout
  • Microtubules
  • Microvilli
  • Mouse
  • Syntaxin 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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