The unique biomechanics of intermediate filaments – From single filaments to cells and tissues


Rölleke U, Kumari P, Meyer R, Köster S


Current Opinion in Cell Biology


Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2023 Oct 21;85:102263.


Together with actin filaments and microtubules, intermediate filaments (IFs) constitute the eukaryotic cytoskeleton and each of the three filament types contributes very distinct mechanical properties to this intracellular biopolymer network. IFs assemble hierarchically, rather than polymerizing from nuclei of a small number of monomers or dimers, as is the case with actin filaments and microtubules, respectively. This pathway leads to a molecular architecture specific to IFs and intriguing mechanical and dynamic properties: they are the most flexible cytoskeletal filaments and extremely extensible. Moreover, IFs are very stable against disassembly. Thus, they contribute important properties to cell mechanics, which recently have been investigated with state-of-the-art experimental and computational methods.



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