Intermediate Filaments and Vesicular Membrane Traffic: The Odd Couple's First Dance?


Victor Faundez,


During the last two decades, much attention has been focused on the regulation of membrane traffic by the actin and microtubule cytoskeletal networks. Their dynamic and polarized behavior and associated motors provide a logical framework from which architectural and movement cues can be communicated to organelles. The study of these cytoskeletal systems has been greatly aided by pharmacological agents. In contrast, intermediate filaments (IFs) have largely been neglected as a potential player in membrane traffic, both because a comprehensive pharmacology to perturb them does not exist and because they lack the intrinsic polarity and specific motors that make the other cytoskeletal systems attractive. In this review, we will discuss evidence suggesting that IFs may play roles in controlling organelle positioning and in membrane protein targeting. Furthermore, we will discuss potential mechanisms by which IFs may regulate the localization and function of organelles.