The Cytoskeleton: Diagnostic Possibilities and Limitations

  • K. Schwechheimer
Conference paper


The cytoskeleton comprises the three-dimensional network of cellular structures including nuclei, organelles, fibrils, and membranes. Among these, the intracytoplasmic filaments form the framework of the cytoskeleton in a narrower sense. The ubiquitous intermediate filaments (7–11 nm) whose diameters lie approximately between those of microfilaments (6 nm) and microtubules (25 nm) can be separated biochemically and immunologically into five classes. Each kind of intermediate filament polypeptide is associated with a well defined cell and tissue type. Cytokeratin polypeptides can be identified in epithelial cells, vimentin predominantly in mesenchymal cells, desmin in muscle cells, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) typically in astrocytes, and neurofilament polypeptides (NF) mainly in neurons (Table 1; Osborn and Weber 1983; Traub 1985).


Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein Intermediate Filament Synovial Sarcoma Pleomorphic Adenoma Merkel Cell Carcinoma 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1988

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  • K. Schwechheimer

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