The TSC1 tumor suppressor hamartin interacts with neurofilament-L and possibly functions as a novel integrator of the neuronal cytoskeleton.
Tuberous sclerosis complex, an autosomal dominant disease caused by mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2, is characterized by the development of hamartomas in a variety of organs. The proteins encoded by TSC1 and TSC2, hamartin and tuberin, respectively, associate with each other forming a tight complex. Here we show that hamartin binds the neurofilament light chain and it is possible to recover the hamartin-tuberin complex over the neurofilament light chain rod domain spanning amino acids 93-156 by affinity precipitation. Homologous rod domains in other intermediate filaments such as neurofilament medium chain, alpha-internexin, vimentin, and desmin are not able to bind hamartin. In cultured cortical neurons, hamartin and tuberin co-localize with neurofilament light chain preferentially in the proximal to central growth cone region. Interestingly, in the distal part of the growth cone hamartin overlaps with the ezrin-radixin-moesin family of actin binding proteins, and we have validated the interaction of hamartin with moesin. These results demonstrate that hamartin may anchor neuronal intermediate filaments to the actin cytoskeleton, which may be critical for some of the CNS functions of the hamartin-tuberin complex, and abolishing this through mutations in TSC1 or TSC2 may lead to certain neurological manifestations associated with the disease.