Characterization of keratin densities in mitotic wish cells

William D. Meek, David A. Henderson

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Three dimensional (3‐D) reconstruction of four mitotic WISH cells from ultrathin sections gave an informative representation of the spatial distribution of keratin densities in these cells. The correspondence between the densities as studied by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and the Keratin bodies initially revealed by immunoflourescent colabeling of cultures, was confirmed by immunoelectron‐microscopy. The smaller, and sometimes more elongated densities, were relatively abundant just beneath the subplasmalemmal microfilament band; and at certain levels of the mitotic cell they were observed to be connected to neighboring densities by intact intermediate filaments (IFs). The larger and more spherical densities appeared to be somewhat more discrete and randomly distributed. Other observed associations of the keratin densities included the telophase contractile ring of microfilaments, chromosomes, the reformed telophase nucleus, and desmosomal junctions with neighboring interphase cells. Cytochalasin D (CD) treatment of cells displaced the peripheral keratin densities toward the cell membrane. The density volume constituted 0.52% to 1.57% of the total cell volume, and the proportional density size was decreased in the cells that had progressed into anaphase and telophase. The observed formation and subsequent dissolution of keratin densities during mitosis may represent a dynamic mechanism of restructuring the keratin cytoskeleton in an unpolymerized form in order to allow for rapid reformation of interphase cell junctions. The physical associations observed between intact IFs and the keratin densities may provide support at certain depths of the mitotic cell, and the juxtaposition of densities with nuclear components suggests a possible source of and role for keratin IFs during nuclear events. © 1994 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-178
Number of pages14
JournalCell Motility and the Cytoskeleton
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • 3‐D reconstruction
  • intermediate filaments
  • Keratin
  • mitosis
  • WISH


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