Studies on the assembly of neuronal intermediate filaments (IFs) date back to the early work of Alzheimer. Developing neurons express a series of IF proteins, sequentially, at distinct stages of mammalian cell differentiation. This correlates with altered morphologies during the neuronal development, including axon outgrowth, guidance and conductivity. Importantly, neuronal IFs that fail to properly assemble into a filamentous network are a hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease. Traditional structural methodologies fail to fully describe neuronal IF assembly, interactions and resulting function due to IFs structural plasticity, particularly in their C-terminal domains. We review here current progress in the field of neuronal-specific IFs, a dominant component affecting the cytoskeletal structure and function of neurons.
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