, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 205-217
Date: 03 Nov 2007

A cell culture model for investigation of Hirano bodies

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Hirano bodies are paracrystalline F-actin-rich aggregations associated with a variety of conditions including aging, and neurodegenerative diseases. The composition and structure of these inclusions have been described by immunohistochemistry and ultrastructure, respectively. However, studies of the physiological function and dynamics of Hirano bodies have been hindered due to lack of a facile in vitro experimental system. We have developed a model for formation of Hirano bodies in mammalian cell cultures by expression of the carboxy-terminal fragment (CT) of a 34-kDa actin-bundling protein. Expression of the CT protein induces F-actin rearrangement in HEK 293, HeLa, Cos7 cells, neuroblastoma and astrocytic cells, and in primary neurons. We have termed these structures model Hirano bodies, since their composition and ultrastructure is quite similar to that reported in vivo. Model Hirano bodies in cell cultures sometimes appeared to be formed of a number of smaller domains, suggesting that small aggregates are intermediates in the formation of Hirano bodies. Stable lines expressing CT and bearing model Hirano bodies exhibit normal growth, morphology, and motility. This model provides a valuable system for the study of the dynamics of Hirano bodies, and their role in disease processes.