Intermediate filaments (IF), a subfamily of the cytoskeletal filaments, provide structural support to cells. Human diseases related to mutations in IF proteins in which their tissue-specific expression is reflected have been found in a broad range of patients. The properties of identified IF mutants are well-studied in vitro in cultured cells and in vivo using transgenic mice expressing IF mutants. However, the association of IF proteins with diseases of the lung is not fully studied yet. Epithelial cells in normal lung express vimentin and various keratins, and the patterns of their expression are altered depending on the progression of the lung diseases. A growing number of studies performed in alveolar epithelial cells demonstrated IF involvement in disease-related aspects including their usefulness as tumor marker, in epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cell migration. However, the lung disease-associated IF functions in animal models are poorly understood, and IF mutations associated with lung diseases in humans have not been reported. In this review, we summarize recent studies that show the significance of IF proteins in lung epithelial cells. Understanding these aspects is an important prerequisite for further investigations on the role of lung IF in animal models and human lung diseases.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Medical Laboratory Technology
- Cell Biology