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Protein family review

The lamin protein family

Travis A Dittmer* and Tom Misteli

Author affiliations

National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20896, USA

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Citation and License

Genome Biology 2011, 12:222  doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-5-222

Published: 31 May 2011

Abstract

The lamins are the major architectural proteins of the animal cell nucleus. Lamins line the inside of the nuclear membrane, where they provide a platform for the binding of proteins and chromatin and confer mechanical stability. They have been implicated in a wide range of nuclear functions, including higher-order genome organization, chromatin regulation, transcription, DNA replication and DNA repair. The lamins are members of the intermediate filament (IF) family of proteins, which constitute a major component of the cytoskeleton. Lamins are the only nuclear IFs and are the ancestral founders of the IF protein superfamily. Lamins polymerize into fibers forming a complex protein meshwork in vivo and, like all IF proteins, have a tripartite structure with two globular head and tail domains flanking a central α-helical rod domain, which supports the formation of higher-order polymers. Mutations in lamins cause a large number of diverse human diseases, collectively known as the laminopathies, underscoring their functional importance.