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  1. Abstract

    Intermediate filaments (IFs) formed by vimentin are less understood than their cytoskeletal partners, microtubules and F‐actin, but the unique physical properties of IFs, especially their resistance to large deformations, initially suggest a mechanical function. Indeed, vimentin IFs help regulate cell mechanics and contractility, and in crowded 3D environments they protect the nucleus during cell migration. Recently, a multitude of studies, often using genetic or proteomic screenings show that vimentin has many non‐mechanical functions within and outside of cells. These include signaling roles in wound healing, lipogenesis, sterol processing, and various functions related to extracellular and cell surface vimentin. Extracellular vimentin is implicated in marking circulating tumor cells, promoting neural repair, and mediating the invasion of host cells by viruses, including SARS‐CoV, or bacteria such asListeriaandStreptococcus. These findings underscore the fundamental role of vimentin in not only cell mechanics but also a range of physiological functions. Also see the video abstract here

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  2. Abstract

    Infection of human cells by pathogens, including SARS‐CoV‐2, typically proceeds by cell surface binding to a crucial receptor. The primary receptor for SARS‐CoV‐2 is the angiotensin‐converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), yet new studies reveal the importance of additional extracellular co‐receptors that mediate binding and host cell invasion by SARS‐CoV‐2. Vimentin is an intermediate filament protein that is increasingly recognized as being present on the extracellular surface of a subset of cell types, where it can bind to and facilitate pathogens’ cellular uptake. Biophysical and cell infection studies are done to determine whether vimentin might bind SARS‐CoV‐2 and facilitate its uptake. Dynamic light scattering shows that vimentin binds to pseudovirus coated with the SARS‐CoV‐2 spike protein, and antibodies against vimentin block in vitro SARS‐CoV‐2 pseudovirus infection of ACE2‐expressing cells. The results are consistent with a model in which extracellular vimentin acts as a co‐receptor for SARS‐CoV‐2 spike protein with a binding affinity less than that of the spike protein with ACE2. Extracellular vimentin may thus serve as a critical component of the SARS‐CoV‐2 spike protein‐ACE2 complex in mediating SARS‐CoV‐2 cell entry, and vimentin‐targeting agents may yield new therapeutic strategies for preventing and slowing SARS‐CoV‐2 infection.

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  3. null (Ed.)