Vimentin is a key regulator of cell mechanosensing through opposite actions on actomyosin and microtubule networks

Farid Alisafaei, Kalpana Mandal, Renita Saldanha, Maxx Swoger, Haiqian Yang, Xuechen Shi, Ming Guo, Heidi Hehnly, Carlos A. Castañeda, Paul A. Janmey, Alison E. Patteson, Vivek B. Shenoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cytoskeleton is a complex network of interconnected biopolymers consisting of actin filaments, microtubules, and intermediate filaments. These biopolymers work in concert to transmit cell-generated forces to the extracellular matrix required for cell motility, wound healing, and tissue maintenance. While we know cell-generated forces are driven by actomyosin contractility and balanced by microtubule network resistance, the effect of intermediate filaments on cellular forces is unclear. Using a combination of theoretical modeling and experiments, we show that vimentin intermediate filaments tune cell stress by assisting in both actomyosin-based force transmission and reinforcement of microtubule networks under compression. We show that the competition between these two opposing effects of vimentin is regulated by the microenvironment stiffness. These results reconcile seemingly contradictory results in the literature and provide a unified description of vimentin’s effects on the transmission of cell contractile forces to the extracellular matrix.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number658
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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