Methods for Determining the Cellular Functions of Vimentin Intermediate Filaments

Methods Enzymol. 2016;568:389-426. doi: 10.1016/bs.mie.2015.09.036. Epub 2015 Dec 19.


The type III intermediate filament protein vimentin was once thought to function mainly as a static structural protein in the cytoskeleton of cells of mesenchymal origin. Now, however, vimentin is known to form a dynamic, flexible network that plays an important role in a number of signaling pathways. Here, we describe various methods that have been developed to investigate the cellular functions of the vimentin protein and intermediate filament network, including chemical disruption, photoactivation and photoconversion, biolayer interferometry, soluble bead binding assay, three-dimensional substrate experiments, collagen gel contraction, optical-tweezer active microrheology, and force spectrum microscopy. Using these techniques, the contributions of vimentin to essential cellular processes can be probed in ever further detail.

Keywords: Biolayer interferometry; Collagen gel contraction; Force spectrum microscopy; Gigaxonin; Optical tweezers; Photoactivation; Photoconversion; Three-dimensional substrate; Vimentin; Withaferin A.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filaments / metabolism*
  • Vimentin / metabolism*


  • Vimentin
  • Collagen