Vimentin coordinates fibroblast proliferation and keratinocyte differentiation in wound healing via TGF-β–Slug signaling

Fang Cheng, Yue Shen, Ponnuswamy Mohanasundaram, Michelle Lindström, Johanna Ivaska, Ny Tor, John Eriksson

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255 Citations (Scopus)


Vimentin has been shown to be involved in wound healing, but its functional contribution to this process is poorly understood. Here we describe a previously unrecognized function of vimentin in coordinating fibroblast proliferation and keratinocyte differentiation during wound healing. Loss of vimentin led to a severe deficiency in fibroblast growth, which in turn inhibited the activation of two major initiators of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), TGF-beta 1 signaling and the Zinc finger transcriptional repressor protein Slug, in vimentin-deficient (VIM-/-) wounds. Correspondingly, VIM-/- wounds exhibited loss of EMT-like keratinocyte activation, limited keratinization, and slow reepithelialization. Furthermore, the fibroblast deficiency abolished collagen accumulation in the VIM-/- wounds. Vimentin reconstitution in VIM-/- fibroblasts restored both their proliferation and TGF-beta 1 production. Similarly, restoring paracrine TGF-beta-Slug-EMT signaling reactivated the transdifferentiation of keratinocytes, reviving their migratory properties, a critical feature for efficient healing. Our results demonstrate that vimentin orchestrates the healing by controlling fibroblast proliferation, TGF-beta 1-Slug signaling, collagen accumulation, and EMT processing, all of which in turn govern the required keratinocyte activation.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)E4320–E4327
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • fibroblast proliferation
  • keratinocyte migration
  • vimentin intermediate filaments

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