Mechanical and Non-Mechanical Functions of Filamentous and Non-Filamentous Vimentin

Alison E. Patteson, Amir Vahabikashi, Robert D. Goldman, Paul A. Janmey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Intermediate filaments (IFs) formed by vimentin are less understood than their cytoskeletal partners, microtubules and F-actin, but the unique physical properties of IFs, especially their resistance to large deformations, initially suggest a mechanical function. Indeed, vimentin IFs help regulate cell mechanics and contractility, and in crowded 3D environments they protect the nucleus during cell migration. Recently, a multitude of studies, often using genetic or proteomic screenings show that vimentin has many non-mechanical functions within and outside of cells. These include signaling roles in wound healing, lipogenesis, sterol processing, and various functions related to extracellular and cell surface vimentin. Extracellular vimentin is implicated in marking circulating tumor cells, promoting neural repair, and mediating the invasion of host cells by viruses, including SARS-CoV, or bacteria such as Listeria and Streptococcus. These findings underscore the fundamental role of vimentin in not only cell mechanics but also a range of physiological functions. Also see the video abstract here

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2000078
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • cytoskeleton
  • intermediate filaments
  • nucleus
  • pathogenesis
  • vimentin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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