Model for Bundling of Keratin Intermediate Filaments

Ehud Haimov, Reinhard Windoffer, Rudolf E. Leube, Michael Urbakh, Michael M. Kozlov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Keratin intermediate filaments form dynamic intracellular networks, which span the entire cytoplasm and provide mechanical strength to the cell. The mechanical resilience of the keratin intermediate filament network itself is determined by filament bundling. The bundling process can be reproduced in artificial conditions in the absence of any specific cross-linking proteins, which suggests that it is driven by generic physical forces acting between filaments. Here, we suggest a detailed model for bundling of keratin intermediate filaments based on interfilament electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions. It predicts that the process is limited by an optimal bundle thickness, which is determined by the electric charge of the filaments, the number of hydrophobic residues in the constituent keratin polypeptides, and the extent to which the electrolyte ions are excluded from the bundle interior. We evaluate the kinetics of the bundling process by considering the energy barrier a filament has to overcome for joining a bundle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-74
Number of pages10
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Jul 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics


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