Intermediate filaments (IFs) are assembled from a diverse group of evolutionarily conserved proteins and are specified in a tissue-dependent, cell type-dependent, and context-dependent fashion in the body. IFs are involved in multiple cellular processes that are crucial for the maintenance of cell and tissue integrity and the response and adaptation to various stresses, as conveyed by the broad array of crippling clinical disorders caused by inherited mutations in IF coding sequences. Accordingly, the expression, assembly, and organization of IFs are tightly regulated. Migration is a fitting example of a cell-based phenomenon in which IFs participate as both effectors and regulators. With a particular focus on vimentin and keratin, we here review how the contributions of IFs to the cell's mechanical properties, to cytoarchitecture and adhesion, and to regulatory pathways collectively exert a significant impact on cell migration.
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