Intermediate filaments EXC-2 and IFA-4 maintain luminal structure of the tubular excretory canals in Caenorhabditis elegans

Hikmat I. Al-Hashimi, David H. Hall, Brian D. Ackley, Erik A. Lundquist, Matthew Buechner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The excretory canals of Caenorhabditis elegans are a model for understanding the maintenance of apical morphology in narrow single-celled tubes. Light and electron microscopy shows that mutants in exc-2 start to form canals normally, but these swell to develop large fluid-filled cysts that lack a complete terminal web at the apical surface, and accumulate filamentous material in the canal lumen. Here, whole-genome sequencing and gene rescue show that exc-2 encodes intermediate filament protein IFC-2. EXC-2/IFC-2 protein, fluorescently tagged via CRISPR/Cas9, is located at the apical surface of the canals independently of other intermediate filament proteins. EXC-2 is also located in several other tissues, though the tagged isoforms are not seen in the larger intestinal tube. Tagged EXC-2 binds via pulldown to intermediate filament protein IFA-4, which is also shown to line the canal apical surface. Overexpression of either protein results in narrow but shortened canals. These results are consistent with a model whereby three intermediate filaments in the canals, EXC-2, IFA-4, and IFB-1, restrain swelling of narrow tubules in concert with actin filaments that guide the extension and direction of tubule outgrowth, while allowing the tube to bend as the animal moves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Mar 6 2018


  • Epithelium
  • Excretory canal
  • Intermediate filament
  • Lumen
  • Tubulogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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