Intermediate filament protein synemin is present in human reactive and malignant astrocytes and associates with ruffled membranes in astrocytoma cells


Synemin, a very unique type VI intermediate filament (IF) protein, exhibits alternative splice variants termed α and β. Unlike other IF proteins, synemin binds to actin-associated proteins, including α-actinin, vinculin, and α-dystrobrevin. Our previous work has demonstrated the presence of synemin in differentiating astrocytes. In this study, we have examined the presence of synemin in human astrocytes under pathological conditions, using rabbit antibodies raised against the C-terminal domain of human synemin produced in bacteria. Western blotting shows that astrocytic tumors contain greater amounts of α-synemin than do normal brain tissues. These tumors also contain β-synemin, which is not detectable in normal brain. Immunohistochemistry demonstrates that, while synemin is present in normal adult brain only in vascular smooth muscle cells, it is newly synthesized by reactive and neoplastic astrocytes. α- and β-Synemins have also been detected by Western blotting and polymerase chain reaction in several human glioblastoma cell lines. In these cell lines, surprisingly, synemin is associated with ruffled membranes in addition to being distributed along the IF network. In ruffled membranes, synemin was found to co-localize with α-actinin. This unusual cellular localization for an IF protein is maintained after nocodazole-induced perinuclear coiling of the vimentin IF network. In addition, immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrate that synemin forms a complex with α-actinin in glioblastoma cells. Taken together with synemin localization within ruffled membranes, this finding suggests that synemin plays a role in motility of glioblastoma cells. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Publication Title