In the current study, we examined the cytoskeletal architecture of cod hepatic stellate cells. We found that the cod hepatic stellate cells contain abundant cytoplasmic filaments. Deep-etch electron microscopy showed that the major component of the cytoplasmic filaments was intermediate filaments, although microtubules and microfilaments were also found in the cytoplasmic filament bundles. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed the presence of βtubulin, α smooth muscle actin, smooth muscle type myosin, desmin and cytokeratin but not vimentin or glial fibrillar acidic protein. These results demonstrate that the cytoplasmic filaments of cod hepatic stellate cells are composed of desmin and cytokeratin intermediate filaments, acto-myosin complexes and microtubules, suggesting that the cod hepatic stellate cells have both contractile and structural functions. The expression of cytokeratin in cod hepatic stellate cells indicates that they serve for mechanical support in the extremely soft liver tissues of cods with their abundant lipids.
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