The role of vimentin intermediate filaments in the progression of lung cancer

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2014 Jan;50(1):1-6. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2013-0314TR.


There is an accumulation of evidence in the literature demonstrating the integral role of vimentin intermediate filaments (IFs) in the progression of lung cancers. Vimentin IF proteins have been implicated in many aspects of cancer initiation and progression, including tumorigenesis, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and the metastatic spread of cancer. Specifically, vimentin IFs have been recognized as an essential component regulating EMT, major signal transduction pathways involved in EMT and tumor progression, cell migration and invasion, the positioning and anchorage of organelles, such as mitochondria, and cell-cell and cell-substrate adhesion. In tumorgenesis, vimentin forms a complex with 14-3-3 and beclin 1 to inhibit autophagy via an AKT-dependent mechanism. Vimentin is a canonical marker of EMT, and recent evidence has shown it to be an important regulator of cellular motility. Transcriptional regulation of vimentin through hypoxia-inducible factor-1 may be a potential driver of EMT. Finally, vimentin regulates 14-3-3 complexes and controls various intracellular signaling and cell cycle control pathways by depleting the availability of free 14-3-3. There are many exciting advances in our understanding of the complex role of vimentin IFs in cancer, pointing to the key role vimentin IFs may play in tumor progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogenesis / metabolism*
  • Carcinogenesis / pathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filaments / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Vimentin / metabolism*


  • Vimentin