Engagement of vimentin intermediate filaments in hypotonic stress

Jian Li, Wei Gao, Yue Zhang, Fang Cheng, John E Eriksson, Sandrine Etienne-Manneville, Yaming Jiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Intermediate filaments (IFs) play a key role in the control of cell structure and morphology, cell mechano-responses, migration, proliferation, and apoptosis. However, the mechanisms regulating IFs organization in motile adhesive cells under certain physical/pathological conditions remain to be fully understood. In this study, we found hypo-osmotic-induced stress results in a dramatic but reversible rearrangement of the IF network. Vimentin and nestin IFs are partially depolymerized as they are redistributed throughout the cell cytoplasm after hypo-osmotic shock. This spreading of the IFs requires an intact microtubule network and the motor protein associated transportation. Both nocodazole treatment and depletion of kinesin-1 (KIF5B) block the hypo-osmotic shock-induced rearrangement of IFs showing that the dynamic behavior of IFs largely depends on microtubules and kinesin-dependent transport. Moreover, we show that cell survival rates are dramatically decreased in response to hypo-osmotic shock, which was more severe by vimentin IFs depletion, indicating its contribution to osmotic endurance. Collectively, these results reveal a critical role of vimentin IFs under hypotonic stress and provide evidence that IFs are important for the defense mechanisms during the osmotic challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13168-13176
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filaments/metabolism
  • Microtubules/drug effects
  • Nocodazole/pharmacology
  • Osmotic Pressure/drug effects
  • Vimentin/metabolism


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