Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 34440673
Link to DOI – 190510.3390/cells10081905
Cells 2021 07; 10(8):
Cytoplasmic intermediate filaments (IFs), which together with actin and microtubules form the cytoskeleton, are composed of a large and diverse family of proteins. Efforts to elucidate the molecular mechanisms responsible for IF-associated diseases increasingly point towards a major contribution of IFs to the cell’s ability to adapt, resist and respond to mechanical challenges. From these observations, which echo the impressive resilience of IFs in vitro, we here discuss the role of IFs as master integrators of cell and tissue mechanics. In this review, we summarize our current understanding of the contribution of IFs to cell and tissue mechanics and explain these results in light of recent in vitro studies that have investigated physical properties of single IFs and IF networks. Finally, we highlight how changes in IF gene expression, network assembly dynamics, and post-translational modifications can tune IF properties to adapt cell and tissue mechanics to changing environments.