PNAS︱Dr. Jing Yang: Vimentin regulates nuclear segmentation in neutrophils


Granulocytes are indispensable for various immune responses. Unlike other cell types in the body, the nuclei of granulocytes, particularly neutrophils, are heavily segmented into multiple lobes. Although this distinct morphological feature has long been observed, the underlying mechanism remains incompletely characterized. In this study, we utilize cryo-electron tomography to examine the nuclei of mouse neutrophils, revealing the cytoplasmic enrichment of intermediate filaments on the concave regions of the nuclear envelope. Aided by expression profiling and immuno-electron microscopy, we then elucidate that the intermediate-filament protein vimentin is responsible for such perinuclear structures. Of importance, exogenously expressed vimentin in nonimmune cells is sufficient to form cytoplasmic filaments wrapping on the concave nuclear surface. Moreover, genetic deletion of the protein causes a significant reduction of the number of nuclear lobes in neutrophils and eosinophils, mimicking the hematological condition of the Pelger–Huët anomaly. These results have uncovered a new component establishing the nuclear segmentation of granulocytes.

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