SummaryType III intermediate filament (IF) proteins assemble into cytoplasmic homopolymeric and heteropolymeric filaments with other type III and some type IV IFs. These highly dynamic structures form an integral component of the cytoskeleton of muscle, brain, and mesenchymal cells. Here, we review the current ideas on the role of type III IFs in health and disease. It turns out that they not only offer resilience to mechanical strains, but, most importantly, they facilitate very efficiently the integration of cell structure and function, thus providing the necessary scaffolds for optimal cellular responses upon biochemical stresses and protecting against cell death, disease, and aging.
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