Intermediate filaments (IFs) are key players in the control of cell morphology and structure as well as in active processes such as cell polarization, migration, and mechanoresponses. However, the regulatory mechanisms controlling IF dynamics and organization in motile cells are still poorly understood. In this study, we investigate the mechanisms leading to the polarized rearrangement of the IF network along the polarity axis. Using photobleaching and photoconversion experiments in glial cells expressing vimentin, glial fibrillary acidic protein, and nestin, we show that the distribution of cytoplasmic IFs results from a continuous turnover based on the cooperation of an actin-dependent retrograde flow and anterograde and retrograde microtubule-dependent transports. During wound-induced astrocyte polarization, IF transport becomes directionally biased from the cell center toward the cell front. Such asymmetry in the transport is mainly caused by a Cdc42- and atypical PKC–dependent inhibition of dynein-dependent retrograde transport. Our results show how polarity signaling can affect the dynamic turnover of the IF network to promote the polarization of the network itself.
- Submitted: 13 July 2016
- Revision received 16 January 2017
- Accepted: 3 March 2017
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