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Review
. 2015 Nov;1853(11 Pt B):3053-64.
doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2015.05.009. Epub 2015 May 12.

Physical Properties of Cytoplasmic Intermediate Filaments

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Review

Physical Properties of Cytoplasmic Intermediate Filaments

Johanna Block et al. Biochim Biophys Acta. .

Abstract

Intermediate filaments (IFs) constitute a sophisticated filament system in the cytoplasm of eukaryotes. They form bundles and networks with adapted viscoelastic properties and are strongly interconnected with the other filament types, microfilaments and microtubules. IFs are cell type specific and apart from biochemical functions, they act as mechanical entities to provide stability and resilience to cells and tissues. We review the physical properties of these abundant structural proteins including both in vitro studies and cell experiments. IFs are hierarchical structures and their physical properties seem to a large part be encoded in the very specific architecture of the biopolymers. Thus, we begin our review by presenting the assembly mechanism, followed by the mechanical properties of individual filaments, network and structure formation due to electrostatic interactions, and eventually the mechanics of in vitro and cellular networks. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Mechanobiology.

Keywords: Assembly; Cell mechanics; Intermediate filament; Network; Persistence length; Polyelectrolyte.

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