Vimentin: Central hub in EMT induction?

Small GTPases. 2011 Jan;2(1):51-53. doi: 10.4161/sgtp.2.1.15114.


Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a critical event in the induction of cell motility and increased survival both under physiological situations like wound healing and during development as well as in malignant cells undergoing invasion and metastasis. Vimentin is an intermediate filament protein which is characteristically upregulated in cells undergoing EMT. For decades vimentin has been considered as a marker for EMT but its functional contribution to the process has remained unclear. Our data demonstrate that vimentin contributes to EMT via upregulating the gene expression of several EMT-linked genes. Especially, we find that vimentin regulates EMT associated induced migration via upregulation of the expression of receptor tyrosine kinase Axl. In addition to our data, several other exciting recent studies support the notion that vimentin in fact functions as a positive regulator of EMT and upregulation of vimentin appears to be a prerequisite for EMT induction.