Ok: IF, microtubules and microfilaments serve different purposes. But whats the biological advantage of having these three types over other organisms? I don't know if I'm being clear.

  • $\begingroup$ Note that cytologically the most apparent property of eukaryotes is, in general, their higher internal compartmentalization (cpe: Gerhart et Kirschner's popular science book: "The Plausibility of Life"); Why eukaryotes have a seemingly higher compartmentalization is perhaps worth of another question :) $\endgroup$
    – tsttst
    Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


While eukaryotes contain tubulin-containing microtubles and actin filaments, prokaryotic homologues do exist. For example FitZ protein, the most common bacterial Tubulin homologue[1], is involved in cell division. Genes for this protein are actually present in eukaryotic nuclear DNA and the protein facilitate the division of the mitrochrondria and chloroplast organelles which were created by endosymbiosis[2].

Similarly, MreB, functions as the most common prokaryotic analogue of actin.

Regarding IF filaments, certainly subsets such as nuclear lamins are uniquely found within Eukarya, however a paper published by Bafchi[4] has suggested that IF-like proteins are present within bacteria.

  1. Bi, E., & Lutkenhaus, J. (1991). FtsZ ring structure associated with division in Escherichia coli. Nature, 354(6349), 161-164. doi:10.1038/354161a0
  2. Margolin W. FTSZ AND THE DIVISION OF PROKARYOTIC CELLS AND ORGANELLES. Nature reviews Molecular cell biology. 2005;6(11):862-871. doi:10.1038/nrm1745.
  3. Gunning, P. W., Ghoshdastider, U., Whitaker, S., Popp, D., & Robinson, R. C. (2015). The evolution of compositionally and functionally distinct actin filaments. Journal of Cell Science, 128(11), 2009-2019. doi:10.1242/jcs.165563
  4. Bagchi S, Tomenius H, Belova LM, Ausmees N. Intermediate filament-like proteins in bacteria and a cytoskeletal function in Streptomyces. Molecular Microbiology. 2008;70(4):1037-1050. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06473.x.
  • $\begingroup$ So it actually depends on the biological advantages (functions) and how the organisms have evolved in time? $\endgroup$
    – Liv
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 7:36

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