Concomitant changes in mitochondria and intermediate filaments during heat shock and recovery of chicken embryo fibroblasts

Nancy C. Collier, Michael P. Sheetz, Milton J. Schlesinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Utilizing video‐enhanced differential interference contrast microscopy of chicken embryo fibroblasts, we observed dramatic changes in the localization and morphology of mitochondria shortly after cells were subjected to a mild heat shock. At normal temperatures mitochondria were distributed in the cell cytoplasm as elongated, tubular, and dynamic organelles but upon heat shock they moved to the perinuclear region and formed a tight ring of short swollen and—in some cases—fused vesicles. Vital dye staining of mitochondria with rhodamine 123 and indirect immunofluorescence staining with antibodies against the mitochondrial‐matrix protein, HSP 60, confirmed these results. Using cells double labeled with antibodies to vimentin and the HSP 60 protein, we found that the changes in mitochondria were accompanied by perturbations of the intermediate filament network that we and others have reported previously for heat shocked cells. Microtubules remained largely unaltered by our heat shock treatment and the redistribution of intermediate filaments and mitochondria occurred even in the presence of taxol, a microtubule stabilizing drug. The effects of heat shock on mitochondria were reversed when cells were returned to normal temperatures and their recovery to their normal state coincided with return of normal intermediate filament morphology. This recovery was blocked in cells treated with actinomycin D during heat shock, a result indicating that a heat shock protein may be required for recovery. These data are consistent with previously published observations that mitochondria are associated with the intermediate filament network but they extend this interaction to a cell system responding to a physiological stress normally experienced by the intact organism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-307
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • differential interference contrast microscopy
  • heat shock protein 60
  • lactic acid
  • rhodamine 123
  • vimentin filaments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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